Lesfic Book Club: The Adventurers

For our September 2021 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed The Adventurers by Bryce Oakley. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below.

A couple of notes on the transcript:

If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://lesficlove.com (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we’re reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you’ll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.

Reader 1  4:02 PM

Welcome, Bryce – we’re excited to have you!

Bryce  4:02 PM

Thank you! I’m excited, too!

Reader 1  4:03 PM

So normally how this works is just a simple Q&A, people ask questions and sometimes they can come kinda fast. If you’re familiar with Slack and you want to thread your responses go for it, or reply right in the channel.

What did everyone think of The Adventurers?

Reader 2  4:03 PM

I enjoyed it. :slightly_smiling_face:

I want to know why the cats were named Bacon and Eggs. Where did that come from?

Bryce  22 days ago

I absolutely love silly animal names. I have a cat named Cowboy, and dogs named Clover and Jellybean. Bacon and Eggs seems like the perfect pair of kitty names to me!

Reader 2  22 days ago

My family likes to name cats after camera and camera film brands.

Bryce  22 days ago

That sounds adorable!

Reader 3  4:04 PM

It was wonderful! It was a fun, relaxed read :slightly_smiling_face:

Reader 4  4:04 PM

The adventure thing was perfect for pandemic situations.

Bryce  22 days ago

I wrote it right at the beginning of the pandemic, so I was definitely dreaming of adventures then, too!

Reader 2  4:07 PM

What are some adventures you thought up but didn’t use for the book?

Bryce  22 days ago

SO many! Karaoke, a trip to Paris, giving away gift cards to strangers on the street, volunteering at an animal shelter… the list goes on and on. I’m a fraidy cat in real life and I keep a list of “adventures” for myself, so it was easy to draw on personal experience there!

Reader 4  22 days ago

Wow!  All those sound great except for Karaoke. I would drive everyone out of the venue with my voice.

Bryce  22 days ago

Ha! Same! Private karaoke rooms are the best for that kind of thing!

Reader 1  4:12 PM

Did you have to do a lot of research for anything in particular, like Kendall’s job or any of their adventures?

Bryce  22 days ago

Big time! My sister in law is a vet and we lived together when I was writing the book, so I definitely quizzed her a TON. I got lucky having a vet so close for all of the small questions (I’m sure you know the feeling with your vet series!). I’ve also never been to Hawaii, so I spent a lot of time on blogs and on google street view

Reader 5  4:15 PM

Sorry late! Loved the book! Really enjoyed Bacon and Eggs with the whole belonging to a vegan thing lol  The adventures and the ones not included are awesome! You should do an adventure planning jar for other people.

Did you draw on personal experience for any of the situations or characters? I still think of the crazy dog lady.

Bryce  22 days ago

Haha, oh big time with the crazy dog lady. We have a few vet friends and a dog trainer friend, and their horror stories definitely translated to easy anecdotes/ideas! As far as other situations, so many personal experiences informed them! Major breakups, protective sisters, irate pregnant friends who know best, the whole works!

Reader 1  22 days ago

I really loved how tell-it-like-it-is Sunny was when it came to Nikki, and Kendall’s best friends setting her straight. You know you have a tight friendship when you’re willing to yell at each other about being dumb.

Bryce  22 days ago

Best friends/sisters in books are some of my favorite relationships, especially when they can tell my MCs they’re being dumb! The MCs need those pushes!

Reader 2  4:16 PM

Speaking of adventures, would you ever write a “Choose You Own Adventure” style book? I’m trying to remember what they call those kinds of books now. Interactive Fiction?

Bryce  22 days ago

I LOVED those types of books growing up! I could never write them, though. It would take so much patience and outlining and planning and cleverness! But if anyone knows any good recently written “choose your own adventure” books, I’d love the recs!

Reader 6  4:24 PM

Speaking of adventures… My question is what made you pick the toy store as one of their adventures?

Bryce  22 days ago

To be honest, nothing delights me more than embarrassing my characters. One thing I kept in mind with each adventure was “how could this go horribly wrong?” I had this vision of the dildo table falling and decided to set a scene in a toy store. Plus, I feel like it’s an inherently awkward AND sexy place, so giving Kendall that authority to talk so positively and openly about sex and orgasms and pleasure definitely did a lot to deepen the connection between them, in my opinion.

Reader 6  22 days ago

That it did. I love hearing how some of my favorite scenes come to life

Reader 1  22 days ago

Do you also take pleasure in torturing them? Cuz by the time they didn’t kiss in the tent, I was getting ready to throw the book 🙂

Bryce  22 days ago

Is there anything better than torturing the characters?! I’d never written a slow burn (I’m a “HEY YOU LIKE EACH OTHER JUST KISS ALREADY!” reader) and I hadn’t even intended to make this a slow burn, but every time they coooould have kissed just wasn’t perfect enough yet. It was fun to make them sweat it out a little bit.

Reader 4  4:26 PM

And what a hilarious adventure that turned out to be. However i did pick u one of thr “toys” suggested myself.

Bryce  22 days ago

Hell yes! I’m glad to hear it! Kendall’s favorite vibrator mentioned is the Lelo Soraya, if anyone is shopping along at home.

Reader 1  4:26 PM

Nice – yet another perk to reading lesfic 🙂

Reader 4  4:27 PM

I am learning that as well. So many perks.

As you can see from my toy post-i am so bad at typing

Reader 7  4:32 PM

Jumping in at my kids football game just to add that I love the age difference!!! I am 13 years older than my girlfriend so any story that normalizes that is great! I loved the book!

Bryce  22 days ago

I’m so glad! I love their dynamic and I wanted to show that age really doesn’t matter as long as you’re both at the right stage to have a true partnership!

Reader 1  4:33 PM

Do you have favorite tropes/themes, either to write or to read?

Bryce  22 days ago

I can’t stop writing Only One Bed as a trope into every book because it’s so fun for a range of character types! I LOVE to read enemies to lovers/opposites attract and my WIP is an enemies to lovers/rivalry workplace romance. In truth, friends to lovers is such a sweet concept that I’d love to see more of because almost all of my friends in queer relationships are living the real life friends to lovers dream.

I also love the theme of found family in queer friendship circles, and wanted to showcase that in The Adventurers!

Reader 8  4:35 PM

Omg. Im so sorry. Took a nap and overslept!

How did you decide / write the Flippin fantastic series?

Bryce  22 days ago

Lucy, Stephanie and I met in a writer’s twitter group and we became friends really quickly because of our writing styles. We’d kicked around the idea of collaborating, and then Lucy and I wrote Just My Type together (we each wrote a character POV, switching off chapters for each POV) so we wanted to do something like that as the three of us. We picked out a setting and a general way the friends knew each other, then developed characters and had chats about how they would interact. We had a lot of video calls where we talked through general plot points that would run throughout each book, then kind of ran with each book. We wrote them simultaneously and read each other’s in google docs as we wrote, correcting anything about our own characters in each other’s drafts. So basically it all came down to a TON of communication, which was easy because we already chatted all day every day, to be honest.

Reader 2  22 days ago

I loved this series. :slightly_smiling_face:

Reader 8  22 days ago

Just My Type is how I started reading your stuff. It was excellent.

The friendships across the flippin novels was so heartwarming. I think that’s my fave part of the series. The different writing styles and approaches the 3 of you have really made the series shine.

The covers!! They’re so cute and vibrant without giving away the storyline.

Bryce  22 days ago

Thank you! I designed the little characters and then we each chose all of the rest of the elements for our covers in a shared Canva chat so they all reflected what we separately wanted but went together, too!

Reader 8  22 days ago

Yall made them together?!?!

Reader 2  22 days ago

I’d love to see more in this series. :slightly_smiling_face:

Bryce  22 days ago

We started writing a new book where all of the characters go on vacation to Greece but had to pause due to some life changes for all three of us — I hope we get to it again some day!

Reader 8  4:41 PM

What was the hardest part of adventurers to write?

Bryce  22 days ago

Any scene where Kendall and Joey were miscommunicating about wants/needs towards the end were really hard! I think for me, the intimate scene towards the end where Kendall is holding so much back but trying to soothe the relationship with physical intimacy was the hardest because I love writing sex scenes where the characters transform in their relationship for the better, and that scene especially was all about being unable to take the next step needed.

Reader 1  4:41 PM

Just wanna put this out there… Kendall’s haircut/tailored suit transformation was super hot, and at the same time made me want to cut my hair short. Real-life doppelbangers situation

Bryce  22 days ago

I had a reader who messaged me saying the haircut scene made them want to cut their hair, and I sent them the picture inspiration for Kendall’s exact haircut and then cut their hair!! That was a huge exciting moment for me as an author.

Seeing my wife in a tailored suit inspired that scene 100%

Reader 8  4:50 PM

That is kind of how I feel about all of your covers. They don’t scream matchy-matchy. But each cover helps bring the story you’re writing to life and supports the actions of the characters.  From comic to colorful. I had to read never mine the second I saw the cover. Same with adventurers. I read it in January. (edited)

Bryce  22 days ago

That means so much to me! I absolutely LOVE designing covers and put so much time and thought into them.

Reader 8  22 days ago

:worried::pleading_face: you make them yourself!?! Im in awe.

Reader 6  22 days ago

That is so dope that you design the covers

Reader 1  22 days ago

Agreed, they’re always gorgeous

Bryce  22 days ago

Thank you!!

Reader 4  22 days ago

You have a great eye to be able to get it right.

Reader 8  22 days ago

Seriously Reader 4 is right. The yellow writing on, something far away and happy is superb.

Bryce  22 days ago

Thank you! I was in marketing/graphic design before I made the full-time writing leap so it was the one thing I felt really good about controlling myself!

Reader 8  4:53 PM

…how do I buy your books in paperback? I own almost all of them through kindle…but I need them in paper.

Bryce  22 days ago

The Adventurers, Most Wonderful, All Aglow, and Never Mine are available in paperback as of right now! I definitely need to get on making the rest of them in paperback — it’s a time consuming process and Amazon makes it hard, but I’ll get around to it!

Reader 8  5:00 PM

What is the book you’re most proud of? (edited)

Bryce  22 days ago

I’m really proud of The Adventurers because of how it totally changed my career because of it’s success. But I’m honestly the most proud of Against the Grain of the Flipping Fantastic series because I wrote it WHILE flipping my father’s house after his death and it helped me work through a lot of Big Feelings at the time.

Reader 6  5:01 PM

If you could be any dinosaur what would you be?

Bryce  22 days ago

I’ve always loved Triceratops, probably a holdover from watching (and subsequently being scarred by) The Land Before Time as a kid.

Thank you all so much for having me! It was such a pleasure chatting with you!

Lesfic Book Club: Full English

For our July 2021 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Full English by Rachel Spangler. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below.

A couple of notes on the transcript:

If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://lesficlove.com (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we’re reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you’ll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.

Rachel Spangler  3:59 PM

I’m here!  This is my first time on Slack so I’ve been poking around a bit and I really like it.  I have a feeling I am going to have so many typos today, as I always get worse when I am excited, so I hope you all won’t judge me too harshly.

Reader 1  4:01 PM

For Rachel as well as anyone else who’s new, book club lasts an hour and it’s just kinda a free for all – have a question, throw it out there. Rachel, you can either respond right here in the channel or if you want to get fancy you can thread your replies by clicking the speech bubble/reply in thread button

Reader 2  4:02 PM

My first question… why scones?

Rachel Spangler  4:04 PM

I ate so many scones when I lived in England!  We had them everywhere, but people also brought them to us.  It was magnificent. Snd scones in England are so much better than the scones in most American bakeries.  I refuse to call the things they sell at Starbucks a scone any more.  To say I got addicted to our local tea rooms when living in the UK is an understatement.  I swear they have healing properties.

Reader 3 Aug 1st at 4:06 PM

Rachel, I loved your book! I especially enjoyed the sex scenes  (I mean, HELLO!) I’m writing a romance myself so it really gave helpful insight.  You are classified as a romance author, not erotica?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Thank you.  I put a lot of work into my sex scenes because they are often the hardest part to write for me, but I think they are so important both for revealing character and for an emotional pay off for the read.  As to the line between erotica and romance I tend to consider myself romance because the plot decides the sex not the other way around.  Still, I do have one erotic romance (Spanish Surrender) and one erotic romance collection (Straight up).

Reader 4 Aug 1st at 4:06 PM

Were you in england when you wrote it.

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Yes! My family and I spent eight months living in a small coastal village in the Northeast of England, just south of the Scottish boarder. It was dream.

Reader 4  4:09 PM

I have to say 1 thing. I read trails merge over a decade ago. It was my 2nd lesfic novel. To say that it changed my life would be an understatement.

Reader 5  4:10 PM

I read trails merge in the first surge of the pandemic. It still is one of my favorites

Rachel Spangler  4:11 PM

Wow @Reader 4 What a wonderful compliment!  I am so glad you found it when you did.  To this that that is one of my best sellers, so clearly I got something right, even though I was still so young.  I wrote that one in grad school, when I had so much left to learn.

Reader 2 Aug 1st at 4:12 PM

What was your favorite part about living in England, besides the scones?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

We live in a place that absolutely inspired the village in the book.  We had stunning views, and amazing neighbors, and a local pub where everyone welcomed us, there were castles all around, and we spent our free time zipping around on the left side of country lanes.  The while experience was magical, but I think the best part was the way the village just folded our little family right into their circle.

Reader 6 Aug 1st at 4:13 PM

OK I got a good one if you could be any dinosaur which would u be

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Oh Pterodactyl for sure. I would love to fly, also my son watched Dinosaur Train when he was little and that was fun.

Reader 4 Aug 1st at 4:14 PM

Are you still with the same publisher?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

I am not, I have moved around.  I’ve published with Bold Strokes, Bywater, Brisk, and I’ve even done a little self publishing. I’ve loved each one for different reasons.  I started so young that I’m always trying to push myself to keep learning and growing.

Reader 7 Aug 1st at 4:15 PM

So, I understand more where you got inspiration for Full English given having lived in the UK. All of your books are so different from a topics perspective, it’s very impressive bc they also are not at all formulaic to each other. So, how do you tend to settle on book topics that you are going to write about or are interested in?

1 reply

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

I almost always start with characters.  I often have ideas for different settings or conflicts, but they never take off until the characters voices come through for me. That’s how I try to keep things fresh, you have see themes in plot or conflict, but so long as the characters are full, unique, well developed people, it shouldn’t matter what else they have have in common, their stories will be theirs alone.

Reader 3 Aug 1st at 4:15 PM

So I think my favorite part of the book was the whole Brogan, Emma, Lady Victoria triangle.  I loved the tension and confusion you built between them.

Reader 1  8 days ago

Agreed, that was such a good twist, and normally I just automatically hate the 3rd part of the triangle, but this time I was like, hmm…. but it could work.

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Thank you!  Lady Vic started as a sort of plot device and then insisted on becoming her own authentic self.  She was a joy to write, and even though her life was clearly not a great fit for Emma I didn’t want to make her a villain either.  And of course the readers liked her so much, she got her own spinoff in Modern English.

Reader 4 Aug 1st at 4:16 PM

When you write outside of your experiences, how do you research and write it? Do you choose the theme first?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

I do insane amounts of research and I generally like it to be primary research. I like to visit the places I write about, and I also have a tendency to just cold connect with people to make sure I have something right.  My last book Thrust involved me just getting a list of olympic fencer and tracking them down online until two of them agreed to talk to me about all things fencing: the sport the culture, the training, the diet, all of it.

Reader 1  8 days ago

Do you find that people are generally excited to talk to you for a book?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Yes!  Very much so.  I am always surprised by the people who grant me full access.  I have generally found that most people are eager to talk about things they love.  I have several olympians in my phone’s contact list, and I often think perhaps they shouldn’t just let people they don’t know text them, but I work really hard to always respect their time and privacy, so the more books I right with expert content the more credibility I am able to bring to those conversations.

Reader 2 Aug 1st at 4:17 PM

If you and several others were summoned to another world to fight against a great evil, would you want to be the Heroine, the Saintess, the Sage, the Scribe who documents the whole journey, or just some tagalong who enriches the other world by teaching them all about the magnificence that is scones?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

I like the role of scribe and bard a lot.  I like telling stories that while not always 100% factual reveal truth. Though tag-alone and scone schlepper isn’t a bad job.

Reader 8 Aug 1st at 4:18 PM

I’m not sure I can formulate a question, so I’ll go with a compliment. The best thing about this book was the love. Too many times, it feels like books show a search for sex or search for a partner, where this was more about love growing naturally and even catching both Emma and Brogan unawares. That and, as somebody who grew up in a small town… it was good to see the community spirit and caring that is one of the best parts of small communities (edited)

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Thank you, that is a wonderful compliment.  For me the whole reason for writing romance is that I believe in the transformative power of love.  I think it’s one of the few universal forces that can actual change our foundations of how we view ourselves and world around us. I always try to convey that in some way in my books.

Reader 2 Aug 1st at 4:18 PM

Will you be writing a sequel to Full English? Perhaps revolving around Lady Victoria?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

LOL yes, Modern English was wonderful to write.  And now I will admit I am writing a third book in the same town called Plain English, which will follow a reckless cousin of Vic’s and an artist friend of Emma’s which will feature my first genderqueer romantic lead.

Reader 1 Aug 1st at 4:27 PM

What’s your ideal writing environment, if you could go anywhere and have anything at your disposal?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Oh the classic room with a view.  Something comfortable. I usually write in a large over-stuffed chair or even a bed.  I can listen to music and often have playlists on Spotify, but I need to have something to look at as I stare into space and ponder new worlds.

Reader 8 Aug 1st at 4:28 PM

Going off the wall a bit… can you imagine anybody from Full English competing in the Olympics? If so, who would it be and what event would they be in?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Oh for sure Brogan would sail, and Vic would ride in the hunter/jumper class.  My favorite scene in Modern English is one where she’s on a horse.  Sports romances are kind of my speciality so I have been in olympic heaven lately!

Reader 7  8 days ago

I love that you pick the not so run of the mill sports! It’s so educational and enjoyable. (edited)

Reader 8  8 days ago

I thought of Brogan sailing after I asked, but I feel silly not thinking of Vic, especially because I had Olympic equestrian on the DVR as the chat started!

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Thank you!  I have loved getting to go down the habit hole with lesser known sports.  I am not an athletic person, but it’s fun to play them in books.

Reader 3 Aug 1st at 4:28 PM

When you write your characters, do you have an image in your head? And how far do you take that? Like I have character sketches with photos, defining physical features,  lingo…all kinds of stuff.  My characters feel like my friends lol

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Yes!  I do detailed character studies, I know what more about them than will ever show up in a book.  I even have Pinterest boards for some of them books, or sometimes I cut out pictures from the Eddie Bauer catalogues.  They are very much my friends!  When I finished a book I am always very lonely!

Reader 2 Aug 1st at 4:29 PM

What was the most enjoyable part of writing this book (not counting the “research” into scones)?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

I love those early days of getting to know them when it’s new and exciting and the possibilities are endless. Yhen the middle third becomes a horrible slog where I want to quit every time, and I think that every word I write it boring trash. Then at the end it gets fun again. There’s always a moment when it comes together and I can see the way it will work out (I never know how it will work out until this point) and I LOVE that moment.

Reader 5 Aug 1st at 4:32 PM

Do you know how to sail?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

No!  I have been on sailboats a few times and always love it, but I have never learned how to do it on my own.  It was on my bucket list for last summer, but we all know what happened to 2020.  I hope to spend a year in Spain soon, and sailing is on the top of my list there.

I have two books set in Spain already, because I love it there SO MUCH!  The first was a new adult coming of age story called Spanish Heart, and the second was a very adult erotic romance called Spanish Surrender.

Reader 7  8 days ago

Ok, I think those are possibly the only two books of yours I have not read yet besides Modern English.

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

No worries. I am sort of kicking around an idea for a whole series there, but that’ll have to see if the move happens next year.

Reader 3 Aug 1st at 4:40 PM

Do you use beta readers? If so, how much do you rely on their input for your final publication?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Yes! I have had the same two beta readers since almost the beginning. They get the book at the same time as my editor.  They leave heavy lifting to her, but I rely on them a lot to let me know if something doesn’t make sense to them, or if the pace lags, or if they find they aren’t rooting for the couple.  Then I also employ sensitivity readers if the book calls for it.

Reader 1 Aug 1st at 4:43 PM

What kinds of books/media do you like best when you’re not writing your own?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Romances, romances, and romances.  :slightly_smiling_face: Really I follow the adage of writing what I love to read.  Though I will say I have had this sort of second childhood through my son and he loves fantasy, so he’s opened my eyes a lot.  We loved reading every single Rick Riordan book together.  He’s getting older now and he recently had me read the Scythe books where were way too dark for my tastes but absolutely gripping.

Reader 7 Aug 1st at 4:44 PM

Do you have other “off the beaten path” sports you want to write about?

Or other locations you want to put your characters in?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Oh so many!  I love sports and I have been watching so much olympics lately.  I’ve been thinking of a book about a Mounted archer, but I’ve also got ideas about a speed skater (insert joke about fast women).  Sailing appears to me A LOT.  My son is into rock climbing now which is so cool.  The list goes on and on.

Reader 5  8 days ago

Any interest in writing about swimming?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

As to travel, it is a passion of mine and I want to set books in call the places I have.  I live right on the boarder with Canada so I really need to do a Canadian book.  I love Cape Cod and feel like I need a book about a whale watcher.  I had a great time eating my way through Italy which would be fun to put in a book!

As to swimming…yes!  And also diving!

Reader 7 Aug 1st at 4:46 PM

Do you do your travel specifically for your writing or is the writing a happy side effect?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Both I think.  It’s a chicken and and egg thing.  Travel always inspires art, but good art also makes me want to experience the world.  I will say I often travel for passion, and the writing springs naturally from that, but sometimes it has worked the other way around.

Reader 3  4:51 PM

How did you choose your editor?

Rachel Spangler  8 days ago

Generally a publisher will choose your editor. That’s what happened for me with my first few books, but when I got assigned to Lynda Sandoval we just took off together.  We had so much success both creatively and sales wise that we now come as a pair.  When I moved to Bywater I took her with me, and now she works as an independent contractor, so whatever publisher I’m with can contract with her directly.  She also moved to the town I live in so we work together all the time.  This is pretty unusual though, most young authors have to work with whoever the publisher hires.

Thank you all for having me and thanks to Cara for organizing!  This was a blast.  If you think of anything after I go you can always reach out on social media.  I’m on FB, Twitter, Insta, and Patreon.  I also have a website at http://www.rachelspangler.com but it is under construction for the next few weeks, so bookmark it and come back at the end of the month to see the new stuff!

Lesfic Book Club: A Marine Awakening

For our June 2021 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed A Marine Awakening by Jax Meyer. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below.

A couple of notes on the transcript:

If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://lesficlove.com (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we’re reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you’ll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.

Reader 1  4:01 PM

Shall we get started? What did you all think of A Marine Awakening?

Reader 2  4:01 PM

I love A Marine Awakening :purple_heart: I love Cam & Sharon

Reader 3  4:02 PM

I read A Marine Awakening first, so by the time I got to Dal Segno I was in tears because I fell in love with Sharon

Jax  4:03 PM

Yeah… I can’t imagine reading in that order.

Reader 2  4:03 PM

Lol

Reader 1  4:03 PM

Well, now those here who haven’t read Del Segno yet have no choice 🙂

Jax  4:04 PM

I barely knew Sharon when I wrote Dal Segno and it tore me up to write. But writing Marine Awakening was like a balm for me.

Reader 2  4:04 PM

I bet

Reader 4  4:04 PM

I started with Del Segno. I’ve been here since the beginning of Jax’s writing career here.

Jax  4:04 PM

Yes you have 🙂

Reader 5  4:04 PM

I obviously had to start at official book 1 bc I’m a rules person but it dont think it changed much in terms of the emotions for me. Reading awakening was sorta sad then but still both amazing.

Reader 4  4:05 PM

I really enjoyed the book, though it took me longer to get through than it usually does with most books.

Hmmm… what questions should I ask? What inspired you to get into writing, and later on screenwriting?

Jax  31 minutes ago

Luck? Divine intervention? I had a dream on night, that turned into Dal Segno. Then I just kept writing.

Screenwriting wasn’t on my radar until I learned about the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Project. Once I had the opportunity I started coming up with stories that work better as a visual story than a book. And I guess I’m not half bad so I keep going. Lol

Reader 3  4:06 PM

What made you want to write a military book that tackles the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy?

Jax  4:11 PM

Personal healing and genuine curiosity about Cam and Sharon’s life. These books allowed me to reimagine that time in my life where it didn’t end in my discharge. I’m still working through that, though it’s been 20+ years.

I also had someone I crossed paths with later in my career who I should have met when I was in Pensacola, but didn’t. So this was in part a way to reimagine my life if we had met. Though it wouldn’t have gone this way either, but it was a way to play with those big ‘what if’ questions while showing people a bit about life during dadt.

Reader 6  4:07 PM

Hi, I loved AMA, is Cam you tho?

Jax  4:13 PM

I mean, Cam has a lot of my preferences and personality traits. At the same time, she’s way better at communicating. Way more sexual. So more like an alternate dimension version that is far better in a relationship than I am.

Thank you everyone for the love. Didn’t want to miss that while I hit the bigger questions. 🙂

Reader 5  4:09 PM

I think a question I’ve had too is how your process differs from writing a novel versus writing a screenplay

Jax  4:16 PM

They are very different. Screenplays have no room for meandering. Every line has to be purposeful because you have anywhere from 1 to 2 hours to tell a complete story.

That means a lot more outlining, planning, cussing, reworking, editing infinitely more.

But! I can reach so many more people with movies and TV if they get made. I’ll keep doing both because I love books.

Reader 7  4:09 PM

Hey y’all I’m here ama… What a great read thank you @Jax

Reader 8  4:11 PM

Was a great book but i can imagine how tough it was in the military being gay

Jax  4:18 PM

I will show just hard in book 5 of this series. That’s the first time I’ll show how hard it was in the fleet. Pensacola was actually pretty easy, all things considered. Hell, there was a time when I never slept in my room, I was in my friend with benefits’ room.

Reader 6  4:14 PM

If the Norse God of Careers threatened to send a thunderbolt which would take out either writing books or writing screenplays which one would you save and why?

Jax  4:19 PM

Right now it’s hard to say because I haven’t sold any of my scripts. But once I get going I’d set aside books because I want to change people’s lives. That requires the reach of film or tv.

Thankfully I don’t have to choose. Lol

Reader 8  4:14 PM

On an aside note i just watched the L Word – all 6 seasons and there was a lesbian character in it that was dealing with getting booted out for being gay.

Jax  4:20 PM

Tasha. Was a very hard storyline for me to watch.

Reader 4  4:14 PM

If you could write a lesbian romance novel or series in another genre like fantasy, sci-fi, superhero, steampunk or other, which genre would be the most likely? And would there be dinosaurs? And how would the protagonist and her love interest beat said dinosaurs? Or dragons? Or aliens? Or…

Jax  4:22 PM

Grounded fantasy, which would simply be the normal stuff in my life that people don’t think is real.

And actually I bring in some dinosaur stuff in the tv show I’m writing. The love interest and the lead met years before while she was on a fossil dig. I’m writing their meeting as a short story to give away next month.

I’m also looking for a good sci fi type adventure for younger people but haven’t thought of it yet

Reader 6  4:20 PM

Later in your Marine’s Heart series you co-wrote with an unheard of author that had written nothing more than twitter posts. How much of a risk was it to agree to write a book with her not knowing whether she could write or spell her own name even?

Jax  4:24 PM

I mean, she could put together a whole sentence on slack, so not too much a risk. That UK spelling though… lol

Reader 1  4:23 PM

You definitely have a lot of pokers in the fire at all times – it’s a testament to how much you can get accomplished if you’re dedicated

Jax  4:25 PM

I do look forward to have less demands on my time so I can get things out more quickly. But these early months in my screenwriting career are critical so I need to get more writing samples done before I can shift to novels again. I want to start Phoenix and Ash book 2 by September.

Reader 8  4:24 PM

Do you also have a day job?

Jax  4:26 PM

I co-own a solar company so am trying to get that profitable enough to hire people and become a part time ceo. Without that on my time I can be a full time writer.

Reader 7  4:27 PM

Yesssa more of ash n pheonix

Reader 3  4:27 PM

Phoenix and Ash is how we met, tht book holds a special place in my heart because it touches a subject I need it to read in lesfic

Jax  4:28 PM

Yes, I need to write their short story, then will dive into book 2

Reader 4  4:28 PM

What has been the hardest part about writing for you?

Jax  4:30 PM

Knowing that I’m learning as I go, so reading back makes me cringe. I’m very critical of myself, but thankfully have a good sense for when I’ve reached the limit of my current abilities.

This fall I’ll release an anthology that checks in on each of my couples. Cam and Sharon’s is a Thanksgiving story that happens a few months after book 3 and 4.

Reader 2  4:29 PM

The one I read?? It’s so good!!

Reader 1  4:29 PM

Awesome, I love catching up with ‘old’ characters

Reader 6  4:30 PM

What are Lane and Mags doing? Should I dust off my novella for them?

Reader 3  4:30 PM

I love that,, I want to catch up with all of them

Reader 4  4:30 PM

What do you most enjoy about writing? What parts do you find the most fun?

Jax  4:32 PM

It’s the first truly creative thing I’ve done. Music was more following what I was told to do. Here I’m discovering these stories that haven’t been told. It’s fascinating and so good for me. To have people like them still blows me away.

Reader 6  4:33 PM

Can you list all your current projects. It’s 27 mins till 10pm here in the UK, so you might not have time

Jax  4:37 PM

Oh lord. Lol sure.

Film: 1. romcom which reincarnates Cam and Sharon. Also will be a book that will match pretty close but with extra stuff.

2. A lesbian top gun, but with the blue angels.

3. A tv show set in rural colorado.

Books: 1. The short story anthology.

2. The short story promo that ties into the tv show above.

3. Phoenix and Ash book 2

4. Book 5 in Marine’s Heart.

5. Cade and Reyna (Cam and Sharon’s reincarnation)

I think that’s it for now?

Reader 1  4:35 PM

Also, you’ve been talking about your screenwriting process here along the way but I’d love to hear more – what’s it like working with a mentor, how hard is it to find people to develop your screenplay, what’s the next step after crowd funding?

Jax  4:40 PM

Good mentors are invaluable because your story has to be spot on to sell. And there are a million ways to tell the same story.

Writing a script is easy compared to after. I just pitched mine to 8 people from a couple companies. So far the animation guys requested to read my script, though it isn’t animated. They are looking for unique voices that might work in future projects though.

It’s all networking. A ton of hurry up and wait.

Oh yeah, I forgot a project. Lol so when I pitched my movie I also shared how it related to my experience in the Marine Corps and I had a request from a producer to write that. So I’m adapting my idea for book 5 into a screenplay as well.

Reader 6  4:37 PM

Will you still remember us when you’re a famous movie screenwriter?

Jax  4:41 PM

Will you get sick of me talking about my projects? Lol

Reader 3  4:38 PM

You have your hands full with that list

Reader 2  4:38 PM

How do you block time for all your projects on top of everything else you have going on?

Jax  4:42 PM

Hahahahahahahahahahaha I just write whenever I can. I try to get a minimum of an hour a night. Preferably two. My family doesn’t often see me.

Reader 3  4:38 PM

If that happens, I’ll be “remember when we were gonna go on a road trip that covid cancelled? It says so on your books” lol

Jax  4:43 PM

Lol seriously I am not the type to forget friends. I will need them more than ever because it’s going to be challenging. The world is not kind to people who tell positive stories about trans kids.

Reader 6  4:40 PM

What are your fave scenes to write in books or screen and which do you dislike?

Jax  4:44 PM

Love cute scenes. The banter and feels. Hate fights. I am really bad at conflict and usually need three or four attempts  before I finally make it a big enough conflict.

Also, sex scenes are so difficult. Like Cam, I am never going to say the word orgasm out loud. Lol

Reader 1  4:46 PM

And yet you wrote so many of them for Cam and Sharon 🙂 Was that planned or were they just way thirstier than expected?

Jax  4:49 PM

Oh my god those two!!! It took so much work to make them wait as long as they did. And that first kiss, definitely didn’t see that coming. But the sex scenes showed Cam’s growth throughout so I’m pretty proud of them. And grateful for an editor to tweak them.

Reader 4  4:41 PM

Would you ever write for an animation?

Jax  4:45 PM

Absolutely. If I have the right idea and someone will make it, I don’t care what the format is.

It would be a different type of story for sure. Animation, tv, movies, all are different stories

Reader 5  4:43 PM

So, sort tagging on with @Reader 2 question do you have multiple things you write at one time? How do you keep it all sorted?

Jax  4:46 PM

I try not to because I am subconsciously working on the story when not at the computer. But sometimes I can shift gears like this past year writing Cade and Reyna and my movie Linking Turns.

Reader 6  4:48 PM

How’s Linking Turns being received. How did you research this film

Jax  4:49 PM

A lot of people love it. The trick is finding the right people to make it. Finding a manager. All of that requires connections. Lots of patience.

Reader 1  4:52 PM

Okay, here’s a Reader 4-style question. 10 years from now, your screenplays have hit the silver screen and become blockbuster hits. Do you want to be a household name, or just quietly take the money and be proud of what you’ve accomplished sans celebrity?

Jax  4:56 PM

People rarely know writers. I want to be known in our community, and in Hollywood because that means I keep getting work. But I don’t want to be recognized walking down the street.

Reader 1  4:57 PM

Do you think you would have to/want to relocate to keep pursuing film?

Jax  4:59 PM

Currently you can avoid living in LA if you write films. If you write tv and want to stay in the writer’s room, which I would, that almost always requires living in LA. Realistically, I’ll be in LA frequently in the future, but prefer to spend most of our time in Colorado.

Reader 8  4:55 PM

Would you want to direct your films or leave that to someone else?

Jax  4:57 PM

I’m not a director. I don’t have a visual imagination. I do want to be involved as far as actor performance and stuff like that, but otherwise I just want to watch stuff come together. Though, if I get a waiver for my GI Bill, I’m going to take some classes and then my answer might change.

Reader 6  4:59 PM

So would you rather be a  well known author and an ok screenwriter or the other way round

Jax  5:01 PM

Not possible to be just okay and get films made as a queer person. I’d rather be a great screenwriter because there are so many great authors. Very few screenwriters making what I want to watch.

Reader 6  5:03 PM

Who is your favourite author and why?

Reader 5  5:03 PM

Oh I was going with the favorite book and why! Lol

Jax  5:05 PM

My favorite list is the only way I answer, and the reason is always that these people write things I can’t, that are always well written and crafted so I become a better writer while also being entertained.

Lee Winter, EJ Noyes, Jae are usually my top 3. I can’t wait to see what Emily Noon does next so she might end up right up there. But i have a ton of favorites.

I have a big list on goodreads for this reason. But, if I had to make a short list I’d include Lee Winter’s Brutal Truth (to write in two different styles blows me away), Shattered, EJ Noyes Ask, Tell series, Alone, and Gold. Rachel Spangler’s Edge of Glory (which kicked off my snowboarding obsession and lead to me writing Linking Turns), Elle Spencer’s Casting Lacey, Emily Noon’s Aurora’s Angel, so many more.

Reader 4  5:07 PM

What stories would you really love to see told that aren’t being written about at present?

Jax  5:09 PM

I don’t know because they don’t exist yet! lol Usually if I see something doesn’t exist, it’s because it’s a story I’m meant to tell.

For instance, the tv series will tell a lot of stories about the changing landscape of smaller towns. The people who resist change, the people pushing to make it more accepting. Lots of queer characters. But my goal is to increase understanding across many groups of people while also getting to showcase Colorado. And have a lesbian main character who gets a real romance and isn’t all drama like the L word.

The TV series is going to be a long process. Honestly, without having a manager who can really put together an amazing writing room and show runner, it won’t sell because I’m an unknown. But I have faith that it will come together because it will appeal to a lot of audiences.

Reader 6  5:16 PM

Thanks Jax, I love all your books and scripts etc etc. Proper fan girl here. bye

Jax  5:17 PM

So does anyone have questions about Grace Note since that’s the thing that’s definitely being made this summer?

Reader 2  5:17 PM

How did the idea come about??

Jax  5:19 PM

There was a listing calling for queer short films. I had never written one and didn’t know where to start. My writing buddy Anthony gave me a prompt that involved a mystery, a first date, and something else. From there I had a rough idea within a few minutes. Refined it as I played around with it. And now that we’re filming it independently, I’ve turned it into a serialized group of shorts so this is just part one.

it can be really hard to start with an idea. For some reason, the prompts from my writing buddies work really well. Lesbian blue angels (it has a title, Flying Colors) was a writing prompt as well from my other buddy Travis.

Reader 1  5:19 PM

Here’s the crowdfunding page if Jax isn’t going to post it 🙂 https://seedandspark.com/fund/grace-note#story

Reader 5  5:19 PM

I wondered if the title came about as a play on the musical note and if that figures in some how.

Reader 4  5:20 PM

Writers and musicians both use notes so the title is very appropriate.

Also, I think the actress on the left is super cute. Don’t tell her I said that though.

Jax  5:21 PM

That’s Emily, and I tell her pretty much every day to stop being so photogenic. It’s ridiculous.

If people don’t ship Erin and Emily as much as they ship Mik and Amara I’ll be disappointed. lol

By the way, if anyone is on Tiktok, I’m trying to post promo videos there as well. So please follow and try to boost since that’s a totally different audience. :slightly_smiling_face: @butchjax

I posted a bunch of notes to Goodreads to share behind the scenes info for Marine Awakening.

https://www.goodreads.com/notes/43727065-a-marine-awakening/7329854-jax

Lesfic Book Club: Don’t Call Me Hero

For our May 2021 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Don’t Call Me Hero by Eliza Lentzski. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below.

A couple of notes on the transcript:

If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://lesficlove.com (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we’re reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you’ll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.

Reader 1  3:59 PM

So generally book club is an hour of Q&A – Eliza, if you’re familiar with Slack and you want to thread your answers you can do that, or just reply in the channel like we’ve been doing. Either way is good!

Reader 2  3:59 PM

It was 6 AM here when I finally finished reading. Made it just in time and with a few hours of sleep. I can’t believe I forgot when the book club was again. :confounded: :laughing:

Eliza Lentzski  3:59 PM

I’m a slack newbie, but I spent enough time in chat rooms in my youth, that I should be able to figure it out

Reader 1  3:59 PM

Yep, it’s pretty much chat rooms 2.0!

Reader 3  4:00 PM

I have 30 minutes left in book 2. 🙂

Reader 1  4:00 PM

So, what did everyone think of Don’t Call Me Hero?

Reader 3  4:00 PM

An interesting story. Very different

Reader 2  4:00 PM

While I go grab some coffee, I’ll start with this: What was your inspiration for writing this book?

Reader 4  4:00 PM

Loved it! Just finished rereading it for the 3rd time…

Reader 6  4:00 PM

I just finished book 3 of winter jacket

Loved it

Reader 2  4:00 PM

Also, I quite enjoyed it.

Reader 7  4:00 PM

i thought it was fabulous

Reader 6  4:00 PM

Hunter is next

Eliza Lentzski  4:01 PM

The origins for DCMH are pretty long. I’d just wrapped up Winter Jacket 1 and was trying to catch lightening in a bottle again

Reader 8  4:01 PM

Hi everyone; Loved DCMH!

Reader 7  4:02 PM

your description of PTSD was spot on

Reader 5  4:02 PM

Lightning in a bottle for sure!!!!!!

Eliza Lentzski  4:02 PM

You never know what books are really going to strike readers — at least I have no idea what’s going to be popular. And I wanted another hit after WJ

Reader 8  4:02 PM

Where did your inspiration come from?

Reader 4  4:02 PM

Is there an over-all plan for a continuation of the series (past book 5)?

Eliza Lentzski  4:02 PM

I wanted to write a police/detective mystery procedural series. I’ve always wanted to since I was younger and read the Kinsey Millhone books

Reader 6  4:03 PM

Cool

Reader 8  4:03 PM

I enjoyed the solving a mystery and who dunnit…

Eliza Lentzski  4:03 PM

I’m from a law enforcement family, so getting into Cassidy’s head felt very natural

But I did a LOT of research on PTSD, women in the military, the Marines, etc.

Reader 4, I have plans for several more books after Book 5.

Reader 5  4:04 PM

How far ahead do you see the characters developing?  Julia, for me, went from almost abhorrent to incredibly appealing, but I would not have seen it coming at the beginning.

Reader 7  4:04 PM

i was pretty sure her dad was at the center of it but so many other players could have been

Eliza Lentzski  4:04 PM

As long as I can keep coming up with mystery/cold case storylines, I have so much more to say about Cassidy and Julia

Reader 8  4:05 PM

well it sounds like now I have at least 4 more books to add to my list!

Eliza Lentzski  4:05 PM

Reader 5 – it’s very much that enemies to lovers trope for these two, except that Cassidy never saw Julia as an “enemy” so maybe a little more one-sided

Reader 5  4:05 PM

I’ll probably go back and reread the series each time you put out a new one!!!

Reader 6  4:05 PM

I am not in a good place to read it now ..military ptsd

..but one day I will read it

Reader 3  4:05 PM

It definitely allows you to go deep into these characters without unnaturally pushing them forward. I appreciate that

READER 9  4:06 PM

How old is Julia ? 😉

Eliza Lentzski  4:06 PM

LOL, READER 9.

Everyone always asks that

Reader 8  4:06 PM

I like the Rizzoli and Isles feel – Julia and Cassidy teaming up to solve a mystery/crime

Reader 4  4:06 PM

I also loved your WJ series.  You have a great way of really making each character so unique.

Reader 6  4:06 PM

Reader 4 agreed

Eliza Lentzski  4:07 PM

Reader 8 – I’m ashamed to say I’ve never watched Rizzoli and Isles, although I know that’s a big lesfic/fan fiction favorite

Reader 3  4:07 PM

I’ve only seen a few episodes. You weren’t the only one for sure

Reader 6  4:08 PM

Bookie is my fave nickname of all time for a character

Reader 10  4:08 PM

Which TV characters would you say most closely resemble Julia and Cassidy?

Eliza Lentzski  4:09 PM

Julia and Cassidy are very much based on Regina Mills and Emma Swan from Once Upon a Time

Reader 10  4:09 PM

I suspected it and started to watch Once Upon A Time because of this!

Reader 5  4:10 PM

Will you be able to keep the audiobooks progressing in this series?   I know its a big, expensive deal, and you have one of the best narrators in Lori Prince!

Eliza Lentzski  4:10 PM

Reader 6 – thanks :slightly_smiling_face: it’s what happens when you get tired of calling someone Bookworm

Reader 11  4:10 PM

@Eliza Lentzski i see that you use 1st POV in a good number of your books. Is it more helpful to get yoru story across?

Reader 12  4:10 PM

What you said about coming from a law enforcement family and that being a way to get in Cassidys head makes total sense. But how did you get inside of Julia’s head? She is one of the most complex, and not immediately likebale, characters in the genre….

Eliza Lentzski  4:11 PM

Reader 5 – I love working with Lori on this series. Yes, it’s very expensive and since I’m self-published, it’s up to me to finance it all. But I do have plans to continue the audiobooks. I want to finish up the WJ series first because Angela Dawe is a little harder to book.

READER 9  4:11 PM

It is because it is the biggest mystery of the book.  Cassidy is an excellent detective and should finally find the answer to free us from this suspense ! Mdr

Reader 6  4:11 PM

Angela.Dawe was amazing in WJ

Eliza Lentzski  4:11 PM

Reader 12 – I started writing First Person with Winter Jacket. It was my first real hit, so I stuck with that and readers seem to enjoy it!

Reader 6  4:12 PM

Love angela dawe!!!!

Eliza Lentzski  4:12 PM

READER 9 – Cassidy figures out how old Julia is in book 5 🙂

Reader 5  4:12 PM

Totally makes sense to get Winter Jacket done via audio first – love that series as well!

Eliza Lentzski  4:12 PM

Angela Dawe could read a phone book and make it sexy

Reader 6  4:13 PM

I heard her via harper bliss’s pink bean series

Reader 4  4:13 PM

When will DCMH5 be released?

Eliza Lentzski  4:13 PM

I’m very close to finishing up Book 5. Give me another week or so.

Reader 13  4:13 PM

Are you going to do a book through Julia’s POV?

Eliza Lentzski  4:14 PM

Reader 13 — I get asked that a lot. It’s really tempting, but as I discovered with Hunter (Winter Jack, book 5) it’s really hard to do!

Reader 14  4:14 PM

About how much time has passed from the start of book 1 to book 4? I recently reread and was thinking it was something like May to Novemberish?

Eliza Lentzski  4:14 PM

You get so used to being in one specific character’s head for such a long time that it’s a challenge to get into the other character’s mindset.

Reader 12  4:14 PM

Julia’s inner monologue would be WILD

Eliza Lentzski  4:14 PM

Plus I would want it to be brand-new material, not DCMH 1 but from Julia’s POV

Reader 5  4:15 PM

I am really enjoying the book “Hunter” from WJ series, which switches the early POV to her.  I’m going back and forth rereading just to get both perspectives.

Reader 10  4:15 PM

I’d lover to be inside Julia’s head when Cassidy spill not 1 but 2 drinks on her!

Eliza Lentzski  4:15 PM

Reader 14 – Yes, exactly. It’s been a very short amount of time. That inspiration comes from the Kinsey Millhone series, too. Sue Grafton wrote 20+ books in that series and it only takes place over 2 years.

Reader 10 – I’m sure it would be a whole lot of curse words, lol

Reader 2  4:16 PM

I’m curious what the cost of the dry cleaning bill was.

Reader 10  4:16 PM

Elegantly cursed of course!

Eliza Lentzski  4:16 PM

Reader 2 – well…Julia only wears very fancy clothes

Reader 7  4:16 PM

I also loved Sue Grafton

Eliza Lentzski  4:17 PM

Reader 7 – I read all those books when I was in junior high, maybe? Probably a little too racy for me, but I liked the mystery parts

And how strong and independent Kinsey Millhone was.

Coming from a law enforcement family, I only knew men in the profession. So to have a female detective who was such a bad ass, was really inspiring when I was young.

Reader 7  4:19 PM

well i was reading well after junior high. I was reading the on night shift at the hospital.

Reader 5  4:19 PM

I think I read in your blog how excited you were when the first audio came out for DCMH – how it made you love Cassidy even more.   What’s it like working with a narrator who totally gets your story, and then is able to bring it to life in audio?

Reader 8  4:19 PM

Do you get your mystery ideas from real cases?

Eliza Lentzski  4:20 PM

Reader 5 – the most surprising thing for me when Lori did the narration is how much it made me like Cassidy even more. A number of years had passed since I’d written the first book before I worked up the courage to go for the audio version

Reader 5  4:21 PM

Forgot I also need to mention that I am from the Twin Cities, and worked for many years at the Hennepin County Government Center, which is also the courthouse – it was really fun to read the descriptions and know where it was!

Eliza Lentzski  4:21 PM

Listening to Cassidy…how funny she was, how self-depreciating, the flashbacks to Afghanistan…I don’t know. I had a new appreciation for her as a narrator.

Reader 3  4:21 PM

Lori nails her vulnerability and uncertainty so well

Eliza Lentzski  4:21 PM

Lori definitely got Cassidy. I’d listened to so many narrators and I felt such pressure for someone to GET IT RIGHT

Reader 2  4:21 PM

Does Cassidy have super powers? To clarify, how does she keep her figure eating everything she does?

Eliza Lentzski  4:22 PM

I’m not the only one counting on Lori to get it right, you know? I don’t want my readers to be disappointed that she doesn’t sound right. I imagine that’s how authors feel when their books are turned into movies.

Reader 7  4:22 PM

Sometimes it makes the book even better to hear it read by someone good at reading the characters to life.

Eliza Lentzski  4:22 PM

Reader 8 – maybe some day, but so far all of the storylines/mysteries have come from my own brain.

Reader 5 – I’m so glad I got it right! I looked at a lot of pictures on Google Earth

Reader 2 – lol, youth and high metabolism. There’s a mirror scene at the start of Book 5 where she notices her face has started to fill out a little though

Reader 15  4:24 PM

I like how you picked different narrators for the two series. It makes the characters stand apart from each other. Some authors use the same person over and over and the characters kind of blend together.

Eliza Lentzski  4:25 PM

Reader 15 – that was exactly my thinking. Plus, Elle and Cassidy are such different characters they almost demand two different voices.

Reader 4  4:25 PM

I’ll have to get the audiobooks now!

Eliza Lentzski  4:25 PM

Reader 4 – you won’t be disappointed. Lori and Angela are so very good at their jobs.

Reader 14  4:26 PM

Will we get to see more of Cassidy’s relationship with her parents now that she’s heading back closer to Embarass with Julia? It seemed like Julia encouraged her to make an effort when they all met last time.

Reader 5  4:26 PM

The books from these series are worthy of both “reading” and “listening”!  I have all of them on Kindle and all the audiobooks available so far!

Eliza Lentzski  4:26 PM

Reader 14 – Cassidy’s parents won’t appear until the Epilogue of Book 5, but I have big plans for them in Book 6

I don’t want to spoil it for folks who haven’t gotten through Book 4 yet, but because of Julia’s relationship with her parents, Cassidy realizes she shouldn’t take her parents for granted.

Reader 5  4:27 PM

Just the mention of “Book 6” makes my heart jump!

Reader 4  4:27 PM

Do you have a rough schedule in mind for how frequently you plan to release the next books in the series?

Eliza Lentzski  4:28 PM

Reader 4 – I’ve kind of gotten in a habit of publishing and stand-alone and then coming back to DCMH

So I have a standalone planned as my next WIP and then I’ll come back to DCMH 6.

Reader 12  4:29 PM

How do you get inside of Julia’s head? She’s a tough personality…

Eliza Lentzski  4:29 PM

The past two years were really tough for me as a writer. When the world is on fire, it’s hard to write a love story. But having someone new in the White House has allowed me to better focus.

Reader 5  4:29 PM

I have much catching up to do on your stand alone books – I’ll probably wish every one becomes a series also!  (No pressure, don’t freak!!)

Eliza Lentzski  4:30 PM

Reader 12 – she’s a tough nut to crack for sure! But those walls are starting to crumble as the books go on. My current book, Grave Mistake, is turning out to be one of my favorites because of how much we learn about Julia’s childhood.

Reader 12  4:31 PM

That’s awesome! And yes, the most def gets more likeable as the books go on, making her more complex

Reader 8  4:31 PM

How long have you been writing, Eliza and when did you know you wanted to write?

Eliza Lentzski  4:31 PM

Reader 5 – I never know if a book is going to become popular enough to warrant a series. A big fear is that I’ll jump the shark with a series. That’s why I ended Winter Jacket after the 4 books + Hunter.

Reader 7  4:32 PM

The past year has been a nightmare for me but your books are helping me get through it.

Eliza Lentzski  4:32 PM

Reader 8 – Gosh, I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I wrote a full-length novel when I was in fourth grade. I was a voracious reader as a kid and that turned into me writing the books that I wanted to read but couldn’t find on the shelf.

Reader 14  4:32 PM

That’s impressive !

Reader 11  4:33 PM

@Eliza Lentzski what are your favorite romance tropes? have any of them showed up in your writing?

Eliza Lentzski  4:33 PM

I’ve been self-publishing since….2013, I think? But before then I was writing epically long fanfiction, probably dating back to 2005?

Reader 14  4:33 PM

The epically long fics are the best. I’m guessing for the Once Upon a time fandom?

Reader 6  4:34 PM

Cool. Just learned there are 4 WJ…just downloaded WJ All.In !!!!!

Eliza Lentzski  4:34 PM

Reader 12 – my favorite tropes…hm….definitely enemies to lovers. That shows up in my writing a lot, I think. Second Chances, which was one of my first books, is enemies to lovers.

Reader 12  4:34 PM

At what point did you decide to make DCMH a series? Or, was it always intended to be so?

Eliza Lentzski  4:35 PM

Reader 6 — You can see my full list of books at my website: elizalentzski.com

Reader 6  4:35 PM

100% agree with Reader 7.  So true. #lesfic was an escape

Eliza Lentzski  4:35 PM

Reader 14 – I actually started out with buffy the vampire slayer. I wrote fuffy. Faith + Buffy

Reader 12 – I had hoped DCMH would be popular enough to turn into a series. For example, I didn’t plan out what Book 2 would be about while I was working on Book 1. I published the original book, held my breath, and hoped for the best. Then, once it seemed that people liked it, I thought about turning it into a series.

Reader 12  4:38 PM

That’s probably because you have them a “happy for now” instead of a true “ever after.”

Reader 2  4:38 PM

Are there any books you did not expect to become a series? Or books you had hope would become a series, but didn’t?

Eliza Lentzski  4:38 PM

I would actually credit my fanfiction readers with a lot of my early success as a self-published author. They liked the fanfiction I’d been writing for close to a decade and they followed me into the self-publishing world.

Reader 2 – I didn’t expect Winter Jacket to be a series at all.

It was my third book and it kind of exploded overnight.

My first two books were third person love stories. Then Winter Jacket happened and wow…

I never actively plan or hope for a book to become a series, maybe I’m a little superstitious. I really wanted DCMH to be a series because I knew I had a lot to say, but I could only hope ya’ll loved Cassidy and Julia like I did.

Reader 4  4:41 PM

Maybe an unfair question — but was one series easier to write than the other?

Reader 5  4:42 PM

How do you find the time to create and write – you have a whole other career right?

Eliza Lentzski  4:42 PM

Reader 4 – there’s a lot more research that goes into DCMH simply because of the mystery storylines. I do research on the strangest things…like botox poisoning.

With Winter Jacket I had to research on TV writing for Book 3, but other than that’s it’s pretty much straight up romance, so I’d say that’s the easier of the two.

Reader 7  4:43 PM

Your search history must be quite interesting.

Eliza Lentzski  4:44 PM

Reader 5 – you’re right. I write fiction in my free time…whatever that is. It’s definitely a challenge to carve out time for creativity, but if you make it a priority, it gets done.

Reader 2  4:44 PM

Have you ever thought of writing books in other genres? Like writing a mystery and romance in a fantasy setting as a royal guard and a court mage try to solve a murder mystery and fall in love during the process? Or anything along those lines.

Reader 7  4:45 PM

How do you pick your settings for your novels?

Eliza Lentzski  4:46 PM

Reader 2 – I’m thinking about historic fiction at some point. I’m a historian by day, so that feels like a natural place for me to go. I have a few ideas/time periods/storylines in mind for that, but I just have to find the time to write them!

Reader 5  4:46 PM

You have to give a shout out to your cat – and is it one cat, or multiple?

Reader 11  4:47 PM

@Eliza Lentzski which is your favorite time period?

Reader 1  4:47 PM

That’s a pretty cool day job. Do you mind if I ask what kind of setting you work in, is it archival/museum type of work?

Eliza Lentzski  4:48 PM

Reader 7 – I tend to stick with the midwest in general. When I first started, a lot of my books were set in Minnesota because I was afraid to write about my homestate of Michigan. Like someone would figure out who I was because I wrote about Michigan. I was highly paranoid, lol. Winter Jacket is set in Minnesota, but you’ll note that I never give the town’s name. When I wrote DCMH, I looked at a map of Minnesota, found the Twin Cities, and then looked for a small town that was far away enough, but close enough that Cassidy could drive there on her motorcycle.

Reader 5 – it’s just ONE cat. Her name is Charley. She’s featured extensively in my social media

Reader 12 – My doctorate is in 19th and 20th century US history, World War II and the immediate years after are my favorite though.

Reader 1 – that’s a secret I never tell. Just like Julia’s age

Reader 6  4:52 PM

Just showed original Manchurian Candidate to my ap us history class post exam. Angela Lansbury is so badass in that film

Reader 1  4:53 PM

So I know you publish on Wattpad – did you start out there because of the fanfic connection?

Reader 5  4:54 PM

For all of us who love the WJ and DCMH series’, and haven’t read all your stand alone books, do you have a favorite you’d  to recommend as the place to start?

Eliza Lentzski  4:54 PM

I kind of stumbled onto Wattpad. I honestly can’t even remember how I discovered it. I started out at a site specifically for fuffy fan fic (I don’t think it exists anymore), and then migrated to the Chosen Two, and then finally to Fanfiction.net. Wattpad is something relatively new I’ve been doing, starting with my book The Final Rose.

Reader 5 – I suppose it depends what you’re in the mood for! You can always depend on me to write a happy ending for the two leads, but for there to be some bumps along the way. My most recent standalone, The Woman in 3B, was really really popular, so maybe there?

But I really do love them all. My unsung hero books is Apophis: Love Story for the End of the World. Kind of an apocalyptic love story.

I also love Fragmented, which is a thriller/romance novel that deals with mental health and (dis)ability

Reader 4  4:57 PM

I love the research that you’ve put into your books.  As a psychiatrist, I appreciated how well you depicted PTSD.

Eliza Lentzski  4:57 PM

Thank you, Reader 4. As a historian, the research and those details are so important to get right.

Reader 5  4:58 PM

I will commit to all 3 – have The Woman in 3B ready to go on my  kindle, and will also grab these others!!  And then more after that

Reader 4  4:58 PM

Yes, and I loved how you made it about the character and their development rather than me reading a text book..

Reader 1  5:00 PM

Getting to the bottom of the hour already… anybody have any unasked questions? Speak now…

Reader 4  5:00 PM

With your day job AND writing, do you ever have time to read?

Reader 5  5:00 PM

Huge thanks to Eliza for sharing her time and insight with us, as well as writing READER 8FIC books!

Eliza Lentzski  5:01 PM

Reader 4 – sadly, no! The books I read are all history books for my job or research for more fiction. Sometimes I’ll take a break and get inspired by some Jeanette Winterson, but the moments to read for fun are few!

Reader 8  5:01 PM

That was the fastest hour ever! Thank YOU Eliza! How FUN.

Eliza Lentzski  5:01 PM

Thanks to all of you for your great questions and for your support!

Reader 7  5:01 PM

Thanks to Eliza for writing such good books.

READER 9  5:01 PM

The woman in 3B is a really good book.  I found Amira’s relationship with her country and her origins very well written.  being myself French of North African origin I was really surprised to find a book which captures this kind of emotions without falling into the cliché and the drama.  So thank you, it was a very nice read.

Eliza Lentzski  5:02 PM

As a self-published author, these moments are really special to me, and I so appreciate your support.

Reader 10  5:02 PM

Thank you for sharing your stories!

Reader 1  5:02 PM

We appreciate you coming to chat!

Reader 4  5:02 PM

Can’t wait for more in the series.  Thank you..

Eliza Lentzski  5:02 PM

Thanks so much for the invite, Reader 1. This was fun :slightly_smiling_face:

And for those of you invested in Book #5, keep an eye on my social media accounts to see when it’s released! It’s going to be here soon!

Enjoy the rest of your day, everyone. If there’s a question you still have or one I didn’t get around to, be sure to say hi on social media!

Lesfic Book Club: Art of Magic

For our April 2021 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Art of Magic by KJ. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below.

A couple of notes on the transcript:

If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://lesficlove.com (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we’re reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you’ll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.

KJ  4:02 PM

Hey everyone. It’s 6am! I’m awake Sort of.

Reader 1 Today at 4:04 PM

What kind of research did you have to do for this book?

KJ  4 minutes ago

The tumour stuff, for sure. Lots about that because I wanted to get it correct. But then Facebook algorithms kept sending me ads for private hospitals.

The inference stuff I researched then used a lot of creative license.

Reader 1  2 minutes ago

I think you did quite well with what you worked up regarding the inference and such

Reader 2 Today at 4:04 PM

Such a delicious concept. However did you come up with the idea?

KJ  2 minutes ago

I had this idea that if you could SEE love, what would it look like? I know love has been explained in physical interpretations, but what it look like if it fell out off the canvas, out of the tubes of paint, and into real life?

Reader 3 Today at 4:07 PM

I enjoyed your book – Art and Magic – great combo! Your use of imagery was amazing – how do you do that??

KJ  < 1 minute ago

I work in pictures, in film, when I write. It’s a delightful way to see a scene. I also draw and paint so I worked hard to marry the two. Something that is particularly ‘me’ is my imagery. So that’s lovely of you to comment on it.

Reader 4 Today at 4:10 PM

Reminded me of a book i read years ago about a boy who experienced life in colors rather than words

KJ  < 1 minute ago

Yes! Synesthesia. That’s where I started. Then ‘pushed’ it further.

Reader 5  1 minute ago

If you had to pick just one, would you choose visual artist or writer?

KJ  < 1 minute ago

Gah! That’s impossible. Nope, both.

Reader 3  2 minutes ago

you tie them together so well, it was very much like reading the script of a scene

now if only we could get music to play while we ‘watch’ too!

KJ  < 1 minute ago

:smiling_face_with_3_hearts: the scenes such as Cath’s arrival in the carpark, the dome of colour, the first sketch scene…they were so visual and fun to write.

Reader 6 Today at 4:16 PM

KJ. I really enjoyed the book too.  I think the front cover was amazing. Probably one of the best I have seen. Who are your go-to authors?

KJ  < 1 minute ago

Soooo many! My author list is now ridiculously long. But I like to read Cari Hunter, Cheyenne Blue, Clare Ashton, Melissa Brayden, but I have found so many new (to me) authors in the last 18 months

Reader 7 Today at 4:18 PM

And I have a question. Since you are so visual, have you thought about writing for tv/movies?

KJ  < 1 minute ago

I HAVE! But thinking about it is all I got to.

Reader 7  4:18 PM

I’m eating with my family but need to say, if you haven’t read KJ’s reviews of books, you are missing out. Follow her on goodreads 🙂

Reader 3  4:18 PM

I liked the immediate connection between Cath and Rica and loved that Cath drove like a speed demon in Rica’s kick a#$ car!!

Reader 1 Today at 4:17 PM

If you had to pick a genre other than romance to write in, what would it be?

KJ  < 1 minute ago

I’m writing a psychological thriller/mystery at the moment. It’s incredibly difficult but I’m loving it.

Reader 5  2 minutes ago

Ooh, fun! If it’s not a spoiler, are you planning to add in magical/paranormal elements like in Art of Magic?

KJ  < 1 minute ago

No paranormal in this one. But it’s Felicity and Tal’s story. So there’s mention of Tal’s gift but only in passing. It’s not important to this story as much.

Reader 8 Today at 4:17 PM

I liked the way Cath was familiar with Rica’s art before they knew each other… which leads to two questions: 1) Have you ever had the experience of meeting an artist whose work you knew before you met them? and 2) Not a question, but a thank you for not leaving it for ages before Cath clued in to the link between Rica’s surname and the signature! 🙂

KJ  < 1 minute ago

:joy: Yep. Cath got it.

And no, I haven’t. That’s be awesome, though.

Reader 5 Today at 4:26 PM

When you’re working on something new, does the plot or the characters come to you first?

KJ  < 1 minute ago

Characters. Every time. I’m better at writing them.

Reader 2 Today at 4:22 PM

Did you always plan to write books in the same universe? I read Coming Home recently and adored it, and thought that Cath could do with her own book. Then….

KJ  < 1 minute ago

Yep. My WIP is Felicity and Tal’s story.

Reader 4 Today at 4:27 PM

Have you ever done anything with ESP?

KJ  4 minutes ago

I like to think I can see colours around people. I don’t know. But Art of Magic was my first foray into things beyond the norm.

Reader 9 Today at 4:29 PM

First thank you! Awesome book and the only thing that kept me sane this past week as we do our home renovation project I’m moving furniture even now. For my question, since you are such a creatively inclined  person in many ways, what songs do you think of or did you think of while writing? Or do you attribute to Rica and Cath? I always find myself signing songs or thinking of lyrics and wondered if you had a soundtrack to your books.

KJ  2 minutes ago

I feel bad when I answer this question when it pops up, because I know I surprise people when I say that I write in complete silence and I don’t attribute music to any character. :grimacing: I’m sorry!

Reader 9  < 1 minute ago

Oh no I get that completely! I have ADHD, if I tried to do work with music there would be work

Reader 1 Today at 4:28 PM

If all your characters were pulled into a superhero comic book world or a magical fantasy comic book world what would all their powers be?

KJ  < 1 minute ago

:exploding_head: That’s such a cool question. Well, Rica’s is there already. Cath? Probably the getaway driver.

Reader 2 Today at 4:30 PM

Are you as mad a driver as Cath? :laughing:

KJ  5 minutes ago

:joy::joy: I’m an excellent driver.

Reader 2  1 minute ago

Modest too

Reader 1 Today at 4:19 PM

Or what about writing for comics or graphic novels?

KJ  < 1 minute ago

I haven’t thought about that. I will now

Reader 3 Today at 4:34 PM

Do you plot out your stories?

KJ  < 1 minute ago

Oh my god. I’m the worst at plotting. I’m a complete pantster. Say that, however, my current work in progress is a mystery thriller thing and I HAVE to plot it.

Reader 2 Today at 4:38 PM

How did you decide to give Rica those calming / healing abilities?

KJ  < 1 minute ago

She told me to. I’m serious! My characters talk to me. Plus I knew I needed a character who was not just the complement to Cath’s personality but could find that part of Cath that was buried.

Reader 5 Today at 4:42 PM

The scene where Rica helps Cath discover her own abilities was like a full stop, put the book down and take a few breaths moment – it was so good

KJ  < 1 minute ago

thanks! Is that the ‘done of colour’ bit? That took AGES to write! I wanted to get it exact. Word choice, everything.

The nipplegasm scene was quicker to write, and fun, but again I had to get that right as well.

Reader 5 Today at 4:42 PM

What would you say your own influences are?

KJ  < 1 minute ago

e.e.cummings for his ability to say so much in so little text – he was like a poetic precursor to Twitter. Also other lesfic authors for sure.

Reader 8 Today at 4:49 PM

If you had to teach at the school: what subjects would you most wish you could teach? and what subjects would you want nothing to do with teaching?

KJ  < 1 minute ago

I’m a teacher by profession. :blush: Primary school for the majority of my career (so what Sam does) and English in secondary (Cath). I have taught visual art.

I could never teach Maths. I wouldn’t have the faintest idea.

Reader 2 Today at 4:50 PM

Is there a plan for an audiobook for Art of Magic? I experienced Coming Home through audio and thought the narrator did a great job, definitely complementing your story.

KJ  < 1 minute ago

I’d love to hire Ruth again. But it depends on finances. It’s incredibly expensive the way I do it because I insisted on an Australian narrator and that means independently hiring one, because the audio companies don’t have any. So we’ll see. Fingers crossed.

Reader 5 Today at 4:57 PM

Which of your books would you recommend for someone new to your catalog? Or which is your favorite that you’ve written, if it’s possible to choose? 🙂

KJ  < 1 minute ago

Probably Coming Home. It’s the most traditional contemporary romance.

My favourite? Each one for their own reasons. Learning to Swim is very very personal and it was my first.

Coming Home continues to surprise the heck out me.

Kick Back for its Aussie-ness

Art of Magic because first time in first person.

Reader 5 Today at 5:01 PM

Is it time for caffeine or more sleep, KJ?

KJ  < 1 minute ago

Both?!

Lesfic Book Club: Bring Holly Home

For our March 2021 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Bring Holly Home by Amanda Radley. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below.

A couple of notes on the transcript:

If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://lesficlove.com (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we’re reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you’ll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.

Reader 1  4:01 PM

Hi Amanda, thanks for joining us!

Reader 3  4:01 PM

Hello!!

Reader 2  4:01 PM

Hello 😀

Amanda Radley  4:02 PM

Thanks for asking me, glad to be here!

Reader 4  4:02 PM

Hello!

Reader 5  4:02 PM

you wrote a wonderful book:slightly_smiling_face:

Reader 2  4:02 PM

Such an amazing book, thank you

Reader 1  4:03 PM

So we’ve had you at book club in the past, but it’s been a little while – basically readers post questions, it can get a little crazy sometimes, and you’re free to either respond inline or thread. And if you have any questions for us feel free :slightly_smiling_face:

Thoughts, questions on Bring Holly Home, everybody?

Reader 2  4:04 PM

What was the inspiration to make it an “accident” that resulted in amnesia.. Quite the incident to go through (edited)

Reader 3  4:04 PM

I love your books, I have read all of them and own most. All of them so different, but this I feel is quite unique on it’s own

Reader 5  4:07 PM

i had a MC accident in 2006. I put into a medically induced coma so I could relate to what Holly was experiencing. I was in the hospital for 6 weeks and I still cant remember the accident. This book felt really personal to me.  Thanks

Amanda Radley  4:07 PM

@Reader 2 Bring Holly Home was originally a fan fiction based on the movie Devil Wears Prada. I loved that film but I always thought it was strange how everyone basically said “oh well, Andy’s not here, she must have quit.” She threw her phone in a fountain and no one ever heard from her again, she could have been kidnapped, murdered, anything. But nothing is questioned and they all go back to New York as if it was perfectly normal. So I started playing with the idea of what if something happened. The accident and amnesia was a good way to build that tension, and guilt, for Miranda/Victoria.

Thanks @Reader 3 I’m so pleased you enjoy my books. I also think Bring Holly Home stands out as quite different, it is definitely one of my own personal favourites.

So sorry to hear about your accident @Reader 5

Reader 6  4:09 PM

Did you have to do a lot of research into amnesia for this book?

Amanda Radley  4:11 PM

@Reader 6 I did some but not a great deal. When I’m researching something I try to not go too deeply into details, sometimes you can become bogged down by all the research you did and feel a need to put it in the book and then it ends up reading like a manual of whatever you’re talking about. I wanted things to sound plausible and to have an air of realism but I didn’t go much further than that (also there’s a LOT of different kinds of amnesia and a lot of confusing about it too)

Reader 3  4:11 PM

What made you write a sequel for it? (edited)

Reader 7  4:13 PM

I love the sequel as well. Brilliant tying up of ends x

Amanda Radley  4:13 PM

@Reader 3 I don’t tend to write sequels but I had an idea for this one and a gap in my schedule so I could write it there and then. Usually I am scheduled for several books in advance so if I have an idea now… I’ll be writing it in about 8-10 months. But that just happened to come at the right time.

Reader 5  4:13 PM

Remembering the dog hit me like a ton of bricks. I was wheeled into my home in a wheelchair, not remembering how to tie my shoes but my dog Taylor met me at the door and I had no trouble remembering him

Amanda Radley  4:15 PM

@Reader 5 I’d read a couple of accounts of people remembering very little but somehow remembering a pet so you’re definitely not alone there.

Reader 6  4:15 PM

What was the part of this book that you enjoyed writing the most?

New

Amanda Radley  4:16 PM

@Reader 6 the opening scene, I had a clear visual of Victoria in the car being driven away from the hotel and this journalist trying to see her and the photograph of Holly being slammed on the window.

Reader 5  4:17 PM

i think its their energy that you remember. Love unconditionally.

Reader 8  4:18 PM

Where there times while writing that even you got frustrated with either of the characters? Either behavior or a reaction to something?

Reader 9  4:18 PM

Hi! So enjoyed the book!

4:18

I cant imagine being Holly and having no recall for that long – so scary

Amanda Radley  4:19 PM

@Reader 8 not that I recall, I run a pretty tight ship and plot everything out before I start. But, because this one was original fan fiction, I’d already ironed most of it out. I did need to change the ending and trying to pitch Victoria correctly there took a little time

@Reader 9 hi, thank you for reading! Glad you enjoyed it :slightly_smiling_face:

Reader 3  4:21 PM

What do you prefer, to write a new story or to mold the fanfiction story to a book format?

Reader 1  4:22 PM

Do you mean you wrote the whole story as fanfiction first and then reworked it with Victoria and Holly? Or did you always know it would end up a novel?

New

Amanda Radley  4:23 PM

@Reader 3 I prefer to write from scratch. I hate editing and redrafting so I try to do as much as possible in one go and then go back once tidy up and make sure the flow is right. Working a fan fiction into a novel involves a number of passes to get it right for me. And because I write full time now, I don’t have time for fan fiction (which is sad, because I used to adore writing it!)

Reader 6  4:24 PM

Asking this question for someone who couldn’t be here: Why have you gone back to a trad pub (you started off at Ylva) as you’ve said indie was best for a long time. What made you change your mind and go to BSB?

Amanda Radley  4:25 PM

@Reader 1 I wrote the fan fiction long before I was a published author, it wasn’t something that I ever thought would become a book. I never thought I’d write books at all at that point. It wasn’t until I’d written a couple of books that I started to look at my old fan fiction work and realised some of it could be made into novels.

Reader 10  4:27 PM

I’m so late! Lost track of time! Hi Amanda!

Reader 9  4:27 PM

Could you describe your plotting process and how long it usually takes you? Do you use any tools to help you or just pen and paper? Picturing heads down, writing feverishly, haha.

Amanda Radley  4:27 PM

@Reader 6 it was the right time for me in my career. I still passionately believe Indie is a great career path and absolutely the right decision for some people. But I was at a time where I had built up an audience and wanted to focus a little on improving my craft and giving myself some time to work on other projects. Signing with a publisher meant they dealt with a lot of the production side of things for me, and BSB have good editors who I knew could help me grow as an author.

Reader 10  4:30 PM

I’ve been making my way through all your books! They are amazing and considering I read you as Fanfiction before you became an author :blush: I have to say you are still so amazing! I love everything I read!

Amanda Radley  4:30 PM

@Reader 9 whenever come up with an idea for a story, I email it to myself and then file it away in a folder called “Story Ideas”. Quite often one of them will stick and start to grow, and I’ll keep replying to that email with the other plot points I come up with. When I’m ready to sit and write (or actually when I send the book proposal to BSB) I open a Word document and I outline the whole book, chapter by chapter. I don’t start writing until I have all of that down, every chapter, which point of view it will be in, what happens throughout the whole story.

Thank you so much @Reader 10 I really appreciate that! And I love how many fanfiction readers came with me on this publishing journey, it’s so nice!

Reader 10  4:33 PM

I don’t have any questions on Bring Holly Home but I do want to ask what gave you the idea for Lost at Sea? That’s definitely at the top of my favorite list!

Reader 1  4:33 PM

What lesfic authors have you been reading lately, or other genres, if you have time for things like that? 🙂

Reader 9  4:34 PM

What’s the best writing advice you’ve received that has really stuck with you over time?

Reader 5  4:36 PM

Have you ever had a boss like Miranda??

Amanda Radley  4:36 PM

@Reader 10 I wanted to write a book set at sea—for romance you generally want to have the two characters be forced to spend time together and ideally have a conflict. So I thought something at sea satisfies the forced together bit. I had an idea about a cargo ship being taken over by modern day pirates as I’d ready about the citadel (safe space in the middle of the ship). But then I thought who wants to research cargo ships etc? So then I moved to the idea of a cruise ship!

Reader 10  4:37 PM

Lol… Definitely glad you didn’t go that root! I loved the cruise ship!

Reader 6  4:37 PM

Okay, thinking of a “me” question to ask and the first thing that popped into my head was this. Would you ever write a detective/mystery story that involved time travel?

Amanda Radley  4:37 PM

@Reader 1 I actually read very little. I write books back to back and I lose my train of thought very easily (I’m on the spectrum) so I generally don’t pick up books. The last one I did read was The Lily and the Crown by Roslyn Sinclair which is a fantastic book and was a fantastic fan fiction as well.

Reader 5  4:37 PM

that sounds like a ship i would like.

Amanda Radley  4:38 PM

@Reader 9 “you can’t edit a blank piece of paper” has always stuck with me. As long as you get something down, you can work with it. I write every day and even when I know it’s terrible, I keep going because I know I can fix it.

@Reader 5 I haven’t personally but when I worked in a large marketing department once a member of our team worked with one of the directors and she was a little like Miranda. She never told you exactly what she wanted, but you knew she wanted it done perfectly. I avoided her as best I could!

Reader 5  4:41 PM

i had a head nurse that was a little Miranda like

Amanda Radley  4:41 PM

@Reader 6 I’d never thought of a mystery story that involved time travel, but I have written mystery and I’ve also considered writing time travel—but that was more for romance. What time period do you think would work best for a mystery?

Reader 6  8 minutes ago

I would guess it would depend on how many jumps would be involved.  Any time after the beginning of the industrial era would be good I think if it’s just going to be set in modern times and one other time period. Or perhaps both time periods could be in the past. Maybe one after the end of World War I and the other after the end of the second world war.

There’s a lot of possibilities. I guess it all depends on the mystery and what time period you think would fit it best.

But if you’re considering a larger number of time jumps/periods, then the time periods could be all over the place.

Reader 3  4:44 PM

Do you plan on doing another collaboration like with Ice Cream Wars?

Reader 1  4:45 PM

You mentioned that you tend to be working 8-10 months in advance. If you get an idea now for a future story, are you researching and developing it in that 8-10 months?

Amanda Radley  4:47 PM

@Reader 3 I don’t have anything in the works and I don’t plan to approach anyone at the moment, but if I was approached by someone else I’d considering it depending on what it was. My wife is focusing more on fantasy at the moment so I doubt we’ll co-write again in the future – but it was a lot of fun to work on Ice Cream Wars with her!

Reader 3  4:48 PM

Asking for a friend: how does having 2 writers in the house work?

Amanda Radley  4:50 PM

@Reader 1 if I have an idea for a story now, I just jot it down in an email and send it to myself. If I add to the idea, I keep replying to that email until such time as I’m ready to outline it. As an example, I’m currently finishing up a story that will be released in December, and I’m contracted for the next which will need to be sent to BSB by 1st June. I have to send BSB a book proposal document for them to read and then amend/approve before they contract me for a book. The proposal I’m working on now would be due October 1st so any ideas I had today the absolute earliest I’d start thinking about it would be 1st June when my last one gets sent in… if that makes sense!

@Reader 3 it’s great, we both sit in our separate offices with headphones in and type all day. We meet up for lunch, complain about how we can’t think of another word for “just” and that our shoulders/back/neck hurts and then go back to work. It’s good because we can talk about work like two people who work in the same company but for different departments.

Reader 1  4:54 PM

Separate offices sounds like a key to making it work – I’d be tempted to wander in periodically to procrastinate 🙂

Amanda Radley  < 1 minute ago

We do sometimes end up in each other’s offices… looking at a bookcase or staring out of a different window. But if one of us is in the middle of something complex and keeps getting interrupted, then the other soon gets the message and leaves!

Reader 6  4:54 PM

Thinking about it more I guess it would make sense for a time travelling lesbian detective to travel to times where there would still be detectives. And depending on the time period you’d have to consider if they’d have to pose as a male or not just to get any detective work done. Going further from this would add a lot more complications I think.

Reader 5  4:55 PM

You said you write every day—does that mean like an 8 hr day or something?

Amanda Radley  4:58 PM

@Reader 5 I try to write between 1,500-2,500 words a day depending on what I’m working on. I can usually do that in the morning and then I spend the afternoon doing admin/marketing etc. If I don’t get my writing target done in the morning, I’ll keep going until I get it done. I have sat here at eight in the evening tapping out a word every other minute to just force myself to get it done. As I said to @Reader 9 above, you can’t edit a blank page!

Reader 1  5:00 PM

Haha would you put that down more to dedication or stubborn determination if you get to the 8pm forcing the words out point?

Reader 10  5:00 PM

Both I’d say :joy:

Amanda Radley  5:02 PM

@Reader 1 knowledge that I’ll be annoyed at myself the next day if I hadn’t done it! And I’ll add that day’s word count target to the next day and give myself an even bigger job the next day. Sometimes I used to leave a few days between sitting and writing and forgot what I was writing, now I make sure I work every day to make sure I keep in the story.

Thanks everyone, I appreciate the invite! If you have any other questions for me, I’m always around on social media or you can email me through my website contact form http://www.aeradley.com

Lesfic Book Club: The Love Factor

For our February 2021 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed The Love Factor by Quinn Ivins. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below.

A couple of notes on the transcript:

If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://lesficlove.com (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we’re reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you’ll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.

Quinn Ivins  4:01 PM

Thank you so much for having me. This is the first time a group has read my book so I’m very excited and a little nervous

Reader 1  4:02 PM

Is this the part where we all gush about how much we loved this book?

Reader 2  4:03 PM

What inspired you to write this book? Especially as a period piece?

Reader 3  4:03 PM

I loved the book so much. But it ended and I thought eg? Where’s the missing chapters

Reader 2  4:03 PM

Can it be considered a period piece if I was alive during the events?

Quinn Ivins Today at 4:04 PM

There is a follow-up story you can read for free!

Reader 2  2 minutes ago

Where?

Quinn Ivins

The anthology Glimpses has a short story about Molly and Carmen that takes place in March 1999. Here is the DL link:  https://dl.bookfunnel.com/ngtz77eo6d

Reader 4  4:05 PM

What’s your background with statistics and political research?

Quinn Ivins  4:07 PM

I have a PhD in political science like Carmen

But I started grad school in 2006

Reader 3  4:07 PM

Do you use it today

Quinn Ivins  4:07 PM

Yes, but I’m not in academia anymore. I work for a government agency doing statistical analysis

Reader 2  4:07 PM

I was an assistant to a poly sci professor in college. How much of what they experienced did you see?

Quinn Ivins  4:08 PM

I drew from personal experience a lot. For example, the situation with a student having a nervous breakdown happened to me when I was a TA. I gave him an extension and my professor got mad–then we found out he had been hospitalized

Reader 5  4:08 PM

I loved how Carmen got attached to the cat and even more so when she kept the kitties!!! It was so uncharacteristic for her at that point… For we all know she’s a giant teddy

Quinn Ivins  4:09 PM

My publisher Astrid deserves credit for the cats. She suggested Carmen needed a cat — eager to please, I added 4 cats

Reader 2  4:12 PM

Did you draw on personal experiences?

Quinn Ivins  4:12 PM

I thought the 90s would be an interesting time to explore the really rapid shift in gay rights opinion that occurred from that time to the present. Support for gay rights changed REALLY fast compared to other things political scientists have studied. So I wanted to explore why that was and also give credit to the people who had made it happen (not me, I thought I was straight in 1997 haha)

I also feel like people my age (older millennials) had an experience where we grew up around a lot of homophobia, and it was scary, but the world changed fast enough for us to have pretty good adult lives

So I almost have survivor’s guilt because I experienced things like the backlash to Ellen coming out, but by the time I was ready to get married it was legal. I got married less than a year after it was legal. So for me, the world changed just in time. But a lot of my older friends had a much harder time at my age

Yes, I loved the X-Files and some of the music mentioned

Reader 1  4:15 PM

What part of writing this book did you enjoy the most?

Reader 5  4:15 PM

How did you come up with Molly’s Best friend???

Reader 3  4:15 PM

How hard was the research? I’ve never seen an entire page of credits or whatever they’re called to publications before

Reader 2  4:16 PM

I must say, the credits and notes at the end made my nerdy heart sing.

Quinn Ivins  4:16 PM

@Reader 1 The 90s nostalgia was really fun to write. I also loved writing the part where Molly knows Carmen’s secret, because I love the idea of an “ice queen” type character in that situation

@Reader 5 Aditi is actually based on a real person named Aditi, but I’ve never met her. I had a girlfriend in college who had basically been converted to lesbianism by her wild friend Aditi back home, and for some reason that stuck with me.

@Reader 3 the research wasn’t too difficult because I’m a political scientist, but I did have to keep in mind what had been published by 1998. One of my older political methodologist friends gave me a tip on an article that came out right before Carmen rips apart Grayson’s research in the talk

Reader 6  4:20 PM

Was it hard as you wrote to not include something that wasn’t around then ?

Quinn Ivins  4:21 PM

I wished I could have included a Bring it On reference. But it didn’t come out until 2000. In fact my editor and I debated whether I could even say “Bring it.”

Reader 2  4:20 PM

what was the most challenging part to write?

Quinn Ivins  4:23 PM

It was hard for me to write sex, even though the scene in the book is not very long or explicit. I worked hard on improving for my 2nd book, which mostly involved pushing through feeling self-conscious

Reader 5  4:20 PM

Without profession in the mix… Who would you say your more like Molly or Carmen?

Quinn Ivins  4:24 PM

I’m more like Molly than Carmen. I’m not as much of an activist as she is (although I was in college) but my personality is more like hers

Reader 1  4:23 PM

Have you ever considered writing in another genre such as fantasy or sci-fi?

Quinn Ivins  4:25 PM

I’d like to write sci-fi sometime. I’d never be able to write fantasy.

Reader 3  4:25 PM

What’s your 2nd book about?

Also who is/are your favourite authors?

Quinn Ivins  4:29 PM

My 2nd book is called Worthy of Love (out about the end of April) and it’s about a disgraced attorney who went to prison for campaign finance crimes in a high-profile scandal (like Michael Cohen). It starts after she gets out, when she can only find work in retail and meets Bella, who has been stuck in her hick hometown working at the store for 10 years

Lee Winter did a better job summarizing… here’s here blurb https://quinnivins.com/worthy-of-love/

I love Jae, Lee Winter, Benny Lawrence, Caren Wilenger

Reader 1  4:26 PM

What genres of books do you like to read when you’re not writing?

Quinn Ivins

I love to read romance. Like many of us I’m sort of hanging by a thread and can’t handle anything that doesn’t have a happy ending right now. Otherwise, I read nonfiction books about politics (pop books with gossip, not research)

Reader 2  4:25 PM

I like that they didnt get together until after Molly left the university / program. That made me super appreciative of it, too.

Reader 7  4:26 PM

Yes, @Reader 2! And I especially appreciated that Carmen still had reservations, even after Molly was no longer her student

Quinn Ivins  4:27 PM

Thanks!  I *agonized* over the power difference and “teacher/student” aspect of the book. My poor editor probably felt like my therapist because I was so worried about it. I didn’t want to write something problematic or unethical, and I tried so hard to make it okay — but it also made it very hard to write a romance, especially physical chemistry, when they were banned from romance for 85% of the book

Reader 1  < 1 minute ago

Would you ever write a book with lesbian space pirates that love to sing sea shanties set to techo music? Also, this is my “me” question for this book club meeting.

Quinn Ivins  1 minute ago

Sadly I doubt I will write about space pirates who sing sea shanties. The closest thing I ever wrote to sci-fi was a fanfic set in a dystopian future that was mostly like this world but with better technology and a worse climate

Reader 2  4:29 PM

What was your favorite part to write?

Quinn Ivins  4:32 PM

I loved writing the scenes that make fun of academia. The faculty meetings and grouchy dinosaurs. I feel like I’ve had that in my system since grad school, and it was good to get it out.

Reader 8  4:31 PM

What do you enjoy or love most about being an author? Same for dislikes about it?

Quinn Ivins  4:34 PM

I love most parts of being an author. It’s something I do on the side in addition to having a day job and toddler, so I wouldn’t write books if I didn’t enjoy it. This is the one thing I do for me in my “free” time. The part I hate most is proofreading. I have ADHD and it’s very hard for me to catch typos.

Reader 2  4:35 PM

I have to ask – why write books that require so much research and extra information? I adore your novel, and Cannot wait to get your next one. I ask this because I’m a :chicken: and refuse to do what you do. lol.

Quinn Ivins  < 1 minute ago

I thought I was taking the easy way out writing about my own field for my first book. So there was some research, but I already knew a lot of it. As for why I keep doing it, I think because I tend to write about brainy characters who care about things (the criminal justice system and politics in my second book, college issues in my 3rd). So I end up having to learn about whatever they’re into

Reader 2  2 minutes ago

College issues!?!?! YES!!

I appreciate and admire your research and novel. It was extremely well researched, written, and edited. I look forward to see what else you publish. The research and extra work you put into it really takes it a step up from the pack.

Quinn Ivins  < 1 minute ago

Yep, my 3rd book goes back to the college setting but it’s about a college president in a feud with faculty over attempted reform

Reader 8  4:42 PM

Is there anything you have a big hankering to do or specific interest in exploring with your writing, eg sub-genre, topic, co-write, etc.

Quinn Ivins  4:45 PM

my third book involves a twin switch which is something I’ve always wanted to write. Other than that, I’ve always wanted to write a book set in the 1980s but I was born in 1983 so I don’t have as much personal experience. My nostalgia for that decade probably comes from being a literal child and then watching a lot of 80s music videos on VH1 in the early 90s

Reader 3  4:43 PM

How the heck do you balance a job, a marriage, a toddler and write book? I’d need 5 extra days adding to the week

Quinn Ivins  < 1 minute ago

I wrote my first book mostly on my phone, just typing here and there when I had a few minutes (or was stealing a few minutes from whatever I was supposed to be doing). The pandemic has made it a lot easier because I got to cut the commute out of my day (although of course I’d give anything for the pandemic to be over). But it’s hard for sure. I don’t have any time for myself that isn’t spent writing, and sometimes I get burnt out.

Reader 7  4:44 PM

How did you decide how to handle Carmen and her family? I kind of appreciated not having the “coming out to a family she expects to be unhappy” situation (which almost always seems to involve bringing a partner home, in many novels)… but we did see her brother’s reaction to finding out through the media, and got to hear them talk about what they expected from their parents

Quinn Ivins  4:48 PM

I actually did write a whole scene where Carmen comes out to her family, but then I cut it during editing. I just didn’t feel like I was doing anything new or interesting — we’ve all read 100 of those scenes. I don’t miss having it in the book, except that I was really proud of how I incorporated the history of that exact day into the scene.  I was going to have her come out to her family on Thanksgiving on the day of a famous incident in a football game involving the Pittsburgh team

I got sort of obsessive about getting the historical details right. For example, on New Years Eve in 1998 it was unusually cold in DC so I rewrote the scene so that they’d need puffy jackets and they were still cold when they went outside

Reader 3  4:51 PM

Would you like to be a full time writer?

Quinn Ivins  4:56 PM

I would love to be a full-time writer, but I don’t see it as realistic until I have a very long backlist and perhaps not even then. The money just isn’t that much compared to a FT job, and my family has a lot of expenses (student loans, childcare, saving for college, etc)

Reader 5  4:51 PM

Who would you marry??? And who would you kill ignoring the obvious choice!

Quinn Ivins  4:52 PM

I’d have to say I’d marry Carmen. She was a combination of every strict teacher I had a crush on in my 27 years of school. Although I didn’t have a stats professor like her — all of my professors were dudes

Hmmm if I couldn’t kill Grayson and I absolutely had to pick someone…. maybe Tom Orta?  But I have affection for all of the other characters, even the ridiculous academic types

I try to make villains cartoonish so they’re easy to hate and you don’t have to feel bad for them

Grayson wasn’t inspired by Trump, but Trump’s Twitter feed inspired the quotes on Grayson’s Geocities website

Like when he called Molly a “very nasty person who almost failed my class” something like that

It was fun to describe all of the academics’ physical appearances because academics have such a funny way of dressing especially after tenure

Reader 5  5:05 PM

My last words are … Can I just have Worthy of Love now!

Quinn Ivins  5:07 PM

I think it comes out in the Ylva store on April 22nd

Then it will be available on Amazon and everywhere 2 weeks after that

It will also be an audiobook but probably not for a few months

Lesfic Book Club: When You Least Expect It

For our January 2021 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed When You Least Expect It by Haley Cass. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below.

A couple of notes on the transcript:

If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://lesficlove.com (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we’re reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you’ll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.

Haley Cass  4:00 PM

Hi

Reader 1  4:00 PM

Welcome, thanks for chatting with us!

Haley Cass  4:01 PM

Thanks for inviting me!

Reader 1  4:01 PM

What did everyone think of When You Least Expect It?

Reader 2  4:01 PM

Loved it.

Reader 3  4:02 PM

It was a favorite of 2020!

Reader 4  4:02 PM

Soooo good, sacrificed several hours of sleep to finish it. Totally worth it

Haley Cass  4:02 PM

I’m so glad you all enjoyed it!! I was nervous releasing it

Reader 5  4:03 PM

I loved it! I really liked how… natural… everything felt. Believable may be the word I’m looking for

Reader 4  4:03 PM

Yeah the pace was perfect

Reader 6  4:03 PM

I loved the book. What I loved most about it was that it never felt rushed and just unfolded beautifully.

And the slow burn, simmering away through all their interactions.

Haley Cass  4:05 PM

That’s really my favorite thing to hear. When I read, I want to experience a book unfolding and the characters bonding. I think my least favorite feeling in a romance as a reader is feeling like I missed out on development? So I think I focus on that (maybe… too much lol) when I write

Reader 5  4:05 PM

But even better… nothing felt dragged out either. Too many authors seem to… relish torturing me as a reader when things aren’t going so well with the couple, and I didn’t feel manipulated that way, either

(Or maybe that’s that I had to rush my reading, as my final book started in 2020 dragged out until yesterday, so I only had a couple of days to read this before today!)

Reader 7  4:06 PM

Great book! Loved the characters interactions, felt natural and little Abbie was great!

Haley Cass  4:06 PM

I only like to torture people when I feel like my characters have a reason to torture you

Reader 3  4:06 PM

I also loved the pining. Too few books have great pining.

Reader 4  4:07 PM

Ah yes, the Gay Yearning:tm:

Reader 6  4:07 PM

@Haley Cass I initially thought that Caroline was the hardass strong one, but then you gave Hannah the grit, strength and determination. Was that deliberate?

Haley Cass  8 minutes ago

This was a deliberate choice, yeah! I usually write with dual PoV (which is likely what you will see from me in the future), but since this was intended to be a novella, I only planned from Caroline’s PoV, and had to figure out Hannah and her journey early on so that I could portray it accurately via Caroline’s view.

The thing with Caroline is that she is very… take-charge in terms of what she wants, usually. But what she wants is to fall in love and have the whole family… she’s, inside, a soft mess. Whereas Hannah is so outwardly soft, I love the idea that people would easily think of her as the softer, more go-with-her-feelings one.

But when you take into account Hannah’s background and the life she’s lived… she has to have the grit to have powered through.

I think hard-exterior-with-soft-interior and seemingly-soft-exterior-with-determined-interior may be my favorite character trope to write, now that i’m really thinking about it

Reader 7 Today at 4:09 PM

@Haley Cass where did the idea for your story come from?

Haley Cass  5 minutes ago

I’ve actually had this idea of lawyer falls for her client (and adorable young daughter) in my back pocket for a while.

To be honest – I was once asked to imagine a spinoff kind of thing for my characters in Those Who Wait. Sutton and Charlotte have two daughters in their future, and a reader asked me what I imagined for their daughter’s futures. And in imagining this, I thought of a vague future for their oldest daughter being a lawyer. That was the first time the seeds of this story ever formed!

Reader 7  4 minutes ago

Awesome! Love that.

Reader 4  3 minutes ago

:heart_eyes: umm the fact that this storyline is vaguely existentially related to Those Who Wait endears it to me even more

Haley Cass  2 minutes ago

:slightly_smiling_face: I’m very happy to hear that! Yeah, Caroline and Hannah definitely took on a life of their own! But their development came from that little seed idea

Reader 8 Today at 4:09 PM

@Haley Cass what was your inspiration for the book?

Haley Cass  4 minutes ago

I answered how the little seeds of this story formed in the last reply! But I never fully developed them until Monica (McCallan, wonderful writer that she is) bet me that I couldn’t write a true love story in under 30k

and I was like, “yes I can!!!” And I thought… lawyer falling in love with her client. I can do that in 30k or less!

… I failed…

Sort of! Caroline was very much in love by 30k lol

Reader 5  3 minutes ago

This is the best sort of failure! Because we still got a great book out of it!

Reader 9 Today at 4:15 PM

Did you feel a lot of pressure for this book after your first one was such a hit?

Haley Cass  3 minutes ago

YES

I really NEVER knew TWW was going to be such a hit? I could have never predicted that. The first two weeks after it came out, I cried actual tears thinking… well. That’s it. No one’s gonna read it.

I mean, granted, I published without advertising or knowing anything about publishing or anyone in publishing lol. But it really felt like. Wow.

Then I guess it started picking up steam and I was overwhelmed (in a good way) and blown away. But then I kept thinking… what if TWW was a fluke? How am I going to live up to that

I still feel that way tbh

Reader 1 Today at 4:18 PM

I loved that you took us through an entire year with Caroline and Hannah and the story touched on a lot of holidays, not just the typical ones. Did you see this as a holiday romance from the get-go?

Haley Cass  5 minutes ago

I always saw this as a holiday romance. I love traditional holiday romances! But I know myself and I knew that I would never be able to write my own version of a love story if I only had like the month of December to do it. I always knew it would have to start and end on Christmas

But as the length got away from me… I had to add in a lot more holidays on that calendar. I found a giant calendar that listed every single holiday, even smaller ones, and it stayed an open tab for me for about 2 months lol

Reader 6 Today at 4:20 PM

The great non-sex scene was the sexiest non-sex scene I’ve ever read! Was there ever a point in your head that it was actually going to happen at that point, or were you always writing that scene as a teaser?

Haley Cass  3 minutes ago

Oh, they were absolutely NEVER going to have sex at the lake house. I knew from the get go that it was going to happen the way it did.

When I was first talking to my developmental editor, I was trying to describe the scene in my head and I kept saying “it’s a sex scene but they aren’t having sex!” And she was like ???? So I just had to say, “You’ll see when we get there.”

I did wonder how far they were going to go, at times. But I always knew they were never going to actually touch one another there. Hannah wasn’t ready for that

Also I love those scenes where you JUST WANT THEM TO DO THE THING SO BADLY (whether it’s have sex or even just kiss) and then… they don’t. Love it

Reader 2  4:21 PM

I want to know at exactly what point did Hannah realize she was in trouble.

Haley Cass  < 1 minute ago

I actually have a LOT of moments from Hannah’s PoV in my head (some will likely be written and sent out on my newsletter in the near future!)

But Hannah, as she reveals, truly understood what she was feeling for Caroline and the scope of their relationship after the near-kiss on Abbie’s birthday eve.

She didn’t give it any credence, though, as she clearly pushed it back down. She started really thinking “shit” and that it was a little more serious when Caroline went on her date. Mostly because Hannah was, inside, very thrown/sad/little jealous by this.

Coming from someone who has had a cheating spouse… well, she was literally married to someone cheating on her and for years, she hadn’t actually had a reaction other than anger/disrespect sort of feelings. But with Caroline – it was all there.

There’s a scene I had in my mind taking place in October, pre-lake house, where they go apple picking. And Hannah watches Caroline and Abbie from a few feet behind. They’re having their typical wonderful time together, Caroline is helping Abbie reach for apples and is also shaking the branches and making it harder for her at the same time. It’s a moment where it really weighs very, very heavily on her that she may be in love with Caroline. But also that she can never mess this relationship up.

Reader 5 Today at 4:26 PM

How did you decide to give Caroline and Abbie a friendship before Caroline took Hannah on as a client? I think that was such an unexpectedly sweet part of this book for me?

4 replies

Reader 4  8 minutes ago

Yesss, loved that little surprise

Haley Cass  < 1 minute ago

There are multiple reasons to their pre-existing friendship for me!

I thought that they needed to have some established bond, given that Hannah is so protective of Abbie. I don’t think she would have allowed them to bond so easily/quickly, had there not already been something established between them.

Abbie plays such a big role in terms of Hannah and Caroline’s overall relationship and in the story in general, that I felt like – I didn’t want Caroline to ever seem like her relationship with Abbie was a result of her feelings for Hannah. I wanted it to be clear and known that she is that person. Who would see a kid stuck in the office on a Saturday afternoon and would put aside her work for a little while to make sure this kid knows she has somewhere to go.

I wanted them to have a bond, beyond Hannah

Reader 10 Today at 4:27 PM

Michael was very inspiring..for me to remain gay. :sweat_smile:

Haley Cass  < 1 minute ago

LOL – same. also I realize I have such a trend of having my characters who have had relationships with men… not great men… but alas.

Reader 1 Today at 4:29 PM

What’s your favorite type of romance to read, as far as tropes, subgenres, etc?

Haley Cass  < 1 minute ago

GAH

Slow burn, for sure. If I see that on any tag, I’m there for it.

Enemies to lovers is something I love to read, but have trouble writing. That appeals to me a lot. Ice queen type characters.

I like friends to lovers, but as a reader, I’m more… picky about them? God knows why, since it’s what I tend to write more.

I love a good fauxmance, too!

I’ll give most things a try, though there are some that are very touch and go for me. Books that feature more heavily on the plot than the romance or have the romance as less of the focus… eehhhhh

Reader 6 Today at 4:30 PM

Who are your favourite authors to read? Who do you admire?

Haley Cass  < 1 minute ago

Taylor Jenkins Reid (not lesbian romance, technically, but she did write Evelyn Hugo!) is just like such a god tier writer to me. She can suck me into anything

EJ Noyes just has such amazing concepts? I wonder where they all come from and HOW does she do it?

Monica McCallan, I just love all of her romances and how prolific she is able to be in her writing. Also on a personal note of like… being on top of social media and stuff. Top Tier in terms of self publishing, that woman

Anna Burke and Kris Bryant, too.

Two of my favorite books have been written by people who don’t have many other books and like no social media presence but I so admire their writing. Riley Lashea’s Behind the Green Curtain and Debra Flores’s One Day You’ll Leave Me

Reader 10 Today at 4:33 PM

Did you always intend to indie publish?

2 replies

Reader 4  13 minutes ago

Ouuu great question, especially with all the aspiring authors on here

Haley Cass  < 1 minute ago

God. Well. I had no idea in the beginning. I think there are merits to both self publishing and publishing with an actual publisher.

Ultimately for TWW, I didn’t want to have to submit my manuscript and then wait for months to hear back and possibly be rejected at the end of that wait. Plus, I figured there was a good chance a publisher would want me to cut a lot of material from TWW – and I’ve read reviews from some people who feel it’s too long. That’s their prerogative! – but I wasn’t willing to part with much of it. I already cut over 70/75k from it, and everything else, for me, was important.

I wanted to have the final say on what’s going to stay and what’s going to go. So that’s really what did it for me when I decided to go forward with TWW

Reader 1  3 minutes ago

You cut 70k from TWW? Ouch! In light of that experience, what editing advice would you give to new and aspiring authors?

Reader 4  < 1 minute ago

Am I the only one desperately curious to read the lost 70k words

Haley Cass  < 1 minute ago

Lol YEP And it was very tough. I love those scenes still.

Mostly, the only thing I would advise to anyone writing their own book is what I tell myself. Write what you want to write. Write that scene you have that speaks to you. Write it all.

And when you have to go through and cut scenes or edit them… it might be tough, but I think it will give you a bigger picture of where you are and what you want to portray

Those lost 70k were mostly scenes with Regan (who may be my favorite character in TWW?) and a few with family members.

Oh and one sex scene. RIP

Reader 9 Today at 4:37 PM

Do you see yourself writing other genres eg sci-fi in the future?

Haley Cass  1 minute ago

I will let you in on a little secret about me…

I’m terrible at writing actual plot lol. Like. I just always want to be focused on my MCs and I like them having some side plots that relate to their careers or family or development. But you know, big overarching plots that have to do with a ton of other stuff… it’s not my forte

I have a story in mind that’s set in my own medieval like world that I REALLY want to write, but I struggle with “plotting” it, aside from the romance.

So… I won’t say never. But it’s not really my go-to

Reader 2 Today at 4:38 PM

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Haley Cass  < 1 minute ago

The hardest part for me came toward the end. I originally planned for it to be much shorter, which had a shorter, different ending.

But when I realized that wasn’t working, I had to sit down and re-plot September-December and figure out where they were going!

I also struggled with trying to make sure Hannah was fully actualized and that, by the end, she was really understood

Reader 9 Today at 4:54 PM

What’s next?

Haley Cass  < 1 minute ago

This is my current struggle!

I have a wip that I have entirely planned out, with characters I love. A celebrity fauxmance type story, between an A-list actress and an inn owner. that i SHOULD keep working on.

But I’ve been really sucked into thoughts (and now, planning) of a medieval arranged marriage story.

I have to cut myself off before I ramble on about them. So… one of those tales will be next.

Reader 1  5:00 PM

We’re at the top of the hour already, all! Any more burning questions or heaps of praise for Haley? 🙂

Haley Cass  5:00 PM

Wow! That went by fast!!

Thank you all so much for having me here and the questions!

Reader 5  5:02 PM

Thank you for such great answers! (And a great book!)

Reader 2 Today at 5:03 PM

Uhm… would Caroline dress up as something Santa-like if Hannah dressed up as something naughty and Mrs. Clause-like for Christmas?

1 reply

Haley Cass  < 1 minute ago

LOL

Hannah would never dress up as a naughty Mrs. Claus, but Caroline would dress up as Santa

“for the CHILDREN”

and would grumble about it the entire time. But she’d probably have a lot of fun in the moment

Lesfic Book Club: Dare to Love

For our December 2020 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Dare to Love by AL Brooks. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below.

A couple of notes on the transcript:

If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://lesficlove.com (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we’re reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you’ll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:02 PM

Heyyy, I’m here!

Reader 1  4:02 PM

Hello hello, thanks for joining us!

Normally what happens is Q&A format, and AL you can either respond right in the chat or you can hit the little ‘reply in thread’ button that looks like a speech bubble to thread your responses – either way works.

What did everyone think of Dare to Love?

Reader 2  4:04 PM

A MA ZING!! It was my first book and after that I just felt for the rest!

Reader 3  4:05 PM

I love it, it was really interesting the way Ash and Carmen blend in together being so so different

Reader 4  4:05 PM

I thought it was wonderful

Reader 6  4:05 PM

I really loved it, after foolishly thinking I wouldn’t enjoy it (based solely on the blurb and foolish ideas of my own)

Reader 2  4:05 PM

But I must confess my favorite so far is A Heart To Trust! :heart_eyes::heart_eyes: @A. L. Brooks (she/her)

Reader 4  4:06 PM

any tattooist has my heart

Reader 7  4:06 PM

I enjoyed it, even as I wanted to strangle Ash lol

Reader 8  4:06 PM

I obviously loved the main characters and overall plot lines but I also loved the depth the supporting characters brought and insight into the main characters.

Reader 5  4:06 PM

Is this the second or maybe more in a series. I feel like the actress and Maggie have a story somewhere??

Reader 9  4:06 PM

I realized there was a book before this one so I just had to buy it so I can read all about Tamsyn and Maggie and find out how they got together. Dare to Love was great by the way.

Reader 5  4:07 PM

That’s her name, Tamsyn!

Reader 3  4:07 PM

I loved the Sophie side story part of the book

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:08 PM

I love that you all are so positive about the book – thanks! And yes, in response to a couple of comments so far, secondary characters are really important to me in all my books. My MCs usually have that one great friend, or family member, who’s vital to their story. Sophie’s story was a given from the minute I started plotting, for example

Reader 9  4:09 PM

I’m curious, did the name Ash come first and then the idea of the phoenix rising from the ashes, or was it the other way around?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:09 PM

The name came first, yes! Then the idea for the tattoo and back story followed about 30 seconds later :joy:

Reader 5  4:10 PM

How many tattoos have you got?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:11 PM

I have 8

Reader 9  4:11 PM

Did you have to do a lot of research for this book?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:12 PM

The main focus of my research was finding stories of women who, like Carmen, suddenly had an attraction for a woman fairly late in their lives. It was very interesting reading!

I also needed to update my tattoo knowledge – it’s been a few years since I had my last one, so I just needed to make sure I was up to date with the hygiene rules etc

Reader 8  4:13 PM

Not being a writer but being an avid googler what does one google when that is what you are researching? I imagine you would find a lot you need to weed through to find the good stories.

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  29 minutes ago

Yeah, that does make it hard, or maybe frustrating is more the correct word. The kinds of crap you are faced with when you’re trying to get to the nitty-gritty of an issue is maddening sometimes

I have to gear myself up for research days, where I know I’m just going to have to keep on pushing through, trying all sorts of variations on a theme to get the articles/posts I want

Reader 8  27 minutes ago

Wow, such a process but such a wonderful result, we benefited for sure! I imagine your filing cabinet of sorts is bursting and you have stories for days of the things you have found. Not at all what I think people imagine when thinking about writing.

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  22 minutes ago

Oh yeah, I have so many ideas for future books!

Reader 3  4:13 PM

What about the pastry they were obssesed? I was craving it the entire book lol

Reader 5  4:13 PM

You should have just got another one to aid your research!

What’s the difference between those ones and a normal one?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:15 PM

Yeah, the pastries came from a trip my g/f and I took to Portugal in 2017. I mean, I’d had them before, but not direct from the source, so to speak. I LOVED them, so I had to build them into a book sometime

Reader 1  4:16 PM

Ash and Carmen complemented each other so perfectly – which character came first, or were you initially inspired by some other element of the story?

Reader 9  4:18 PM

If Ash’s symbol is the phoenix, what would Carmen’s symbol be, if she were given one?

Reader 5  4:19 PM

Have you ever really loved a certain part of your story, only to have your editor get a red pen and rule thru it saying oh this bits not needed or something similar?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:20 PM

In answer to Reader 1’s question, Carmen came first, as she was a side character in Write Your Own Script, but literally the minute I started thinking about her having her own story, the idea of Ash popped into my head. Like, what is the ‘worst’ scenario Carmen could face if she’s attracted to a woman (and an out lesbian at that) for the first time. Oh yeah, a woman who’s sworn off ‘curious’ women. Mean, I know, but…

Reader 9, I think Carmen would be a lioness. Quietly strong, very protective of her friends/family

Reader 5 – all the time!!! It happens with every book. But I always make a point of keeping the chunks the editor is adamant should go, because you never know when the opportunity might come up to make a short story out of it

Reader 8  21 minutes ago

Novice non writer question here be warned…are you allowed to release anything, short stories, novellas, etc… not published by your publisher? So if your editor or people said no I hate this bit could you take it and release that piece on your own bc you loved it?

I feel saddened for all the bits of stories in dark corners across the globe.

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  20 minutes ago

We definitely have freedom to release other stuff, especially short stories. I have a couple of free short stories up on my website, and I’m sure I’ll add more, and probably from bits I’ve left out of previous books

I have a question for the readers – favourite character, Carmen or Ash? Or someone else?!

Reader 4  4:27 PM

Ash

Reader 5  4:27 PM

Carmen

Reader 2  4:27 PM

Carmen

Reader 3  4:27 PM

Ash

Reader 7  4:27 PM

Depends on the situation

Reader 10  4:27 PM

Carmen

Reader 6  4:28 PM

For me, Carmen… especially as somebody who came out (trans, in my case) later in life, so I could identify in some ways with her

Reader 9  4:28 PM

Hmmm… I’d have to think on it a bit I think.

I like each one, but for different reasons.

Reader 1  4:28 PM

I think I’m going Ash for somebody I’d want to hang out with or date, and Carmen whose struggles I relate to more

Reader 9  4:29 PM

I like them both, but I guess I like them both together better.

If you could throw your characters into another world, for whatever reason, what kind of world would it be? Something general like sci-fi, fantasy, superhero or other? Or something more specific like the Ghostbusters, Lord of the Rings or some other world?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:32 PM

Reader 9, that’s an awesome question! I’m already imagining Ash as some kind of butch superhero. Maybe with Carmen as the mysterious woman she has to rescue, only to discover Carmen is quite capable of rescuing herself, thank you very much

Reader 5  4:33 PM

Are you a panster or the other one?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:34 PM

Haha, I’m an in-between! I have a vague, sort of overall plot, but I don’t flesh out too much detail beforehand. I have kind of 3 or 4 key scenes/situations I know I want to put my characters into, and then I start writing and see how we get there. Sometimes it works really well and quickly, other times it takes a little longer

Reader 5  4:34 PM

Thanks for understanding my question! :joy:

Do you read your reviews?

Reader 8  4:36 PM

Wait! So there are only 3 or 4 key scenarios and all the rest were building blocks to the key ones? I feel like so much more was key. I think I passed more key in the first 20%.

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:37 PM

Sometimes… I do find it hard to take some of the negative ones, when they’re not that constructive, e.g. “I hate this book, she’s not a good writer.” Those make me wince. So I’m selective. When a book first comes out, I don’t read any of them – my g/f does and lets me know in very general terms if the new book is being received well or not. If it is, then I might start reading reviews as they come in

Reader 5  4:37 PM

Who is your favourite lesfic author?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:38 PM

Reader 8, yeah, it sounds crazy but that’s just how my brain works. And yes, it does mean I end up with more ‘key’ moments than I first ‘planned’, but the inspiration just hits me as I write the characters and their story together develops

Reader 8  8 minutes ago

Got it! So you start with less and end with more. I thought you didn’t consider the rest key.

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  7 minutes ago

No, that’s the joy of being a pantser – key stuff kind of miraculously appears as you go along, haha!

Reader 5, it’s hard to answer that one! I have so many :joy:. But to name a few: Jae, Clare Ashton, KJ – they’re currently the authors whose books I would read as soon as they publish them, probably without even reading the blurb

Reader 7  4:41 PM

Definitely good ones

It’s always interesting to see what style of books writers enjoy, especially compared to what they write.

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:42 PM

It is! Like, I love Fletcher Delancey’s books, and many other sci fi/fantasy writers, but could never write that genre myself

Or at least I don’t think so

Reader 7  4:43 PM

What do you have in your writing queue?

Reader 5  4:44 PM

Do you have set working hours? Or do you just try and do ‘some’ writing everyday? Also how do you keep motivated with the shit British weather?

Reader 4  4:45 PM

And the shit pandemic

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:45 PM

Reader 7, I just finished writing my next novel, titled Chasing Dreams, and that’s now with my editor, and will be out next October. Next up (and this is a world exclusive, folks!) I’m working on a sequel to my debut, The Club, which my publisher is keen to take a look at, so let’s see if that makes it out to the world sometime…

Reader 5  4:45 PM

Next October :scream::scream: why so long if it’s written?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  < 1 minute ago

Because we go through lots of editing and proof-reading before it’s published, and that all takes time and scheduling around the editors’ own deadlines… sorry!

Reader 5, I’m no longer in the UK, I’ve lived in Germany since the start of 2019 so I don’t have to worry about the British weather any more, just the German weather, haha! And no, I don’t have set writing hours – I work full time at a day job, so I have to just fit my writing around that. So mostly at weekends really

Reader 5  4:47 PM

Is that why it’s October for publishing? To give you time to do the edits etc?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:48 PM

Reader 4, yeah the pandemic has been hard for the creativity, that’s for sure :unamused:

Reader 1  4:48 PM

Just kind of a general trad pub question… do you just keep going back and forth with your editor until you both feel it’s done, or do you know how the revision process is going to go in advance?

Reader 7  4:49 PM

And do you use the same editor with each book?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:49 PM

Reader 1, we have a set timeframe for edits, i.e. a date by which it has to be done, but during that timeframe we might do 3 or maybe 4 ‘passes’ of her and me working through it to fine tune it to a point where we’re both happy

Reader 7, not necessarily – Ylva has a pool of editors on hand, so sometimes I get someone I’ve worked with before, sometimes it’s someone new

Reader 6  4:51 PM

If you were sitting at a table with your favorite actress and your favorite author, who would you be sitting with?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:52 PM

Reader 6, I’d be dining with Gillian Anderson and probably Jae if you made me really, really, really pick one favourite author

Reader 5  4:53 PM

It’d be ice cream then. I heard Jae eats nothing but :joy:

Reader 1  4:53 PM

You’re in Germany so this could be a reality… do you and Jae hang out?

Reader 8  4:53 PM

I’ve noticed that at least a handful of writers have a pen name that they write under for books of a different style or genre subtype. Is that ever something you would consider to try out mixing genres like sci/fi in to test yourself out?  What would your sci/fi fantasy pen name be?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:54 PM

I’ve actually had lunch with Jae since I’ve lived here, so I can confirm she does eat more than ice cream – I believe it was spetzle with cheese followed by cake :joy:

Reader 8, it’s definitely something I would consider if I had more time to write, i.e. no day job so I could write in more than one genre

@Reader 5 No, this is my real name, just with initials instead of my first name :grimacing:

Reader 8  4:56 PM

Copy. So win lottery. Come up with pen name for second genre. Write.

Reader 2  4:58 PM

What is your day job if you don’t mind me asking?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  4:59 PM

I don’t mind at all! I work in corporate financial systems. So, I’m part of a support team for my company for one of their budgeting systems. We help people when the system doesn’t quite do what they want, or if they’re new to the company and need to know how to use it

Reader 8  5:01 PM

So do you view writing as work or as an escape?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  5:01 PM

Oh definitely escape!

Reader 8  5:03 PM

If it ever started feeling like a chore what would you do? Reevaluate the topics you were writing? Step away? I’m sure the two things together can get to be consuming.

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  5:04 PM

I would step away. In that respect I’m lucky I have a day job, so writing isn’t my main income and therefore I would have the luxury of being able to take a break. Luckily, that feeling hasn’t happened yet though!

Reader 5  5:05 PM

Do you speak good German now? This question is so eloquently phrased it’s obvious I can’t even speak good English

Reader 1  5:05 PM

Elizabeth Gilbert said something along the lines of “never ask your passion to pay your bills” in Big Magic. Setting aside the fact that a lot of authors disregard that, I think it’s good advice

Reader 4  5:06 PM

Do you ever think it could become your main income?

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  5:07 PM

Reader 4, I’d love it to be so, but I think it will only happen once I retire from the day job, when I have a pension and can supplement it with the writing

Reader 5 Today at 5:05 PM

Do you speak good German now? This question is so eloquently phrased it’s obvious I can’t even speak good English

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  1 minute ago

Unfortunately not yet! I can do everyday stuff, but proper conversation with a group of people about all sorts of topics, no

Reader 1  5:08 PM

We’re a little past the top of the hour… any more questions for AL, everybody?

Reader 8  5:08 PM

Not from me. Thank you so much!

Reader 5  5:09 PM

Thank you for your time tonight

A. L. Brooks (she/her)  5:09 PM

It was my pleasure! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, and I’m glad Carmen and Ash’s story was so loved

Lesfic Book Club: Finding Jessica Lambert

For our November meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Finding Jessica Lambert by Clare Ashton. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below.

A couple of notes on the transcript:

If you want to join us live, we discuss lesfic novels every month at http://lesficlove.com (sign up or follow me on Twitter to find out what we’re reading next). Some chat participants requested that their names be obscured, so below you’ll see that everyone has been anonymized as Reader 1, Reader 2, etc.

Clare Ashton  4:08 PM

Evening! Afternoon! I’m here

Reader 1  4:09 PM

So, what did everyone think of Finding Jessica Lambert?

Reader 2  4:10 PM

I read a review of the book that said, ‘Read and be thrilled’. How does it feel when you get a review like that?

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

Amazing! It’s weird working away and being immersed for months alone in a book not knowing what on earth people will make of it, so it’s a huge relief if it hits a few good reviews when it comes out!

Reader 3  4:10 PM

Ms Ashton, I loved the Bond girl bit

Reader 4  4:11 PM

I absolutely loved The book!!! 🥰🥰 It drew me in from the first 2 chapters and I couldn’t put it down

Clare Ashton

That’s great to hear! :blush::blush::blush: I was hoping the first chapters would pull people in with wondering with who the characters were and hopefully feeling a nice connection between them immediately.

Reader 4  6 days ago

I loved how they did thoughts but not knowing the others name yet… It was brilliant

Reader 5  6 days ago

It absolutely got me curious from the start and really holds your attention as you progress through it and discover more about the characters. The pace is awesome and development of the characters just right.

Reader 6  4:12 PM

Loved the story and the connection between Jess and Anna!!

Reader 2  4:13 PM

The kiss watching the fireworks was magical followed by such a beautiful love scene, the culmination of simmering attraction. Their actions were clumsy and realistic. This is my first read of yours, so is this a typical Ashton feature?

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

:heart: I definitely wanted that scene to be realistically tentative and clumsy but passionate.

I hope all my books have that element of realism even if the characters are sometimes initially glamorous or different.

Reader 7  4:14 PM

I don’t know that I’ve read another book where I’ve so strongly identified with BOTH of the main characters. I often will identify with one, but both Jess and Anna felt like they could be me… well, except for the acting on stage thing (but since I’ve worked as a musician, even that had some of those performance parallels)

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

I’ve heard a few people say this. Perhaps it’s because both are running away in some sense and help each other rather than one being the big strong heroine.

Reader 5  6 days ago

It’s funny that’s how you put it bc I really enjoyed the equal draw both characters had and that there wasn’t the typical hero and one needing saving. It was so realistic.

Reader 2  6 days ago

Yes, they are leaning on eachother. There’s an ebb and flow of support that makes it more realistic.

Reader 7  6 days ago

I can see that. I think in my case, I recognized their experiences of anxiety and some of them felt way too much like me. My life isn’t nearly as limited as Anna’s was at the beginning of the book, but there are significant ways in which I’ve arranged my life to avoid bumping into anxiety quite as readily and I think it took seeing things from her perspective to realize that as clearly about myself

Reader 4  4:14 PM

Yes the connection from the beginning was amazing. I wanted to cry when Anna heard Jess on the radio :sob::sob: it broke me when they were apart and the scene between them when Anna came face to face with Jess was so emotional and it was like that part was made for them when they “practiced” together

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

I actually got nervous before writing the stage confrontation scenes! Hands actually shook a little. They really had to work and I didn’t know if I was going to pull it off. It was quite strange! Never had nerves like that before

Reader 8  6 days ago

Well, I can say that you pulled it off quite well.

Reader 4  6 days ago

I can see that. It was a very emotional part. Anna avoided Jess up til that part not knowing why so to come face to face with the person that has become your, basically hope for the future… It can be very daunting. With that being said… It’s one of my favorite scenes in the entire book!!!

Reader 3  4:15 PM

I loved all the secondary characters, they brought so much to the book

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

I love writing secondary characters as much as the heroines. I love having a mix so that they bring different sides of the main character’s personalities out. You see a different side to Anna with Pen for example and again with her mother.

Reader 9  6 days ago

I often read your books and wonder how much of the secondary characters you plan ahead and how much you invent as you go through the story?!

Reader 4  6 days ago

Yes I wanted to slap her mother! And Pen too when she recognized Jess and that convo I wanted to slap her… But otherwise I loved Pen. She was a firecracker for sure

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

I have a rough idea about secondary characters and their personality – I plot in a fair amount of detail – but the fun is really bringing them to life in the first draft

Reader 6  4:16 PM

Where did your inspiration for the story come from?

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

Inspiration for Jess came from seeing a photo of popstar Rhianna inside a car with fans’ hands pressed against the car windows outside. The picture is take from inside the car and I thought it looked terrifying! Then I thought actually a mega star who is unsuited to the attention would be a great character!

Reader 4  4:17 PM

I had a stalker so I really related to Anna and I couldn’t imagine being as famous as Jess. I couldn’t handle the exposure like that.

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

I couldn’t handle that either. I had a much less serious case than Anna once and it gave me a glimpse of how life changing it could be. Hope all’s well for you now

Reader 2  4:21 PM

Did you have fun thinking about the Atlassia franchise? Are you a fan of those sorts of movies? Or Dr. Who, Star Trek etc? Rose or Martha?

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

It was fun! Yes definitely a fan of some of the Star Trek series (the recent ones most of all), Star Wars, and others. And Rose or Martha – loved them both.

Reader 6  4:29 PM

Did you plot this story out?

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

I’m definitely a plotter – some of my books have more than the usual two main characters and can get quite complicated! I had a decent outline for FJL but had to feel my way through more with this one though. I wanted to go in deep with the characters and their relationship this time.

Reader 4  4:29 PM

Have you ever thought of making a sequel???

Or even a prequel for Anna before her stalker?

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

Initially I had a series in mind with this as the middle book! I’m such a slow writer though I skipped to the one I wanted to write most!

Reader 2  4:39 PM

When writing the characters do you have a picture in your head of how they look? Who would play them in a movie?

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

Yes, very much so. A couple characters have been inspired partly by actors but they never end up looking or sounding the same as the initial inspiration. Lots of elements go into the mix and I love that magic moment when they become a distinct and real person

Reader 8  4:39 PM

Have you ever thought of writing the whole Atlassia story into a series of books? Would you ever make them into a TV series or series of movies?

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

I would love to write all these things, but I’m much too slow a writer!

Reader 9  4:48 PM

How do you know when you’ve run the distance on a story and when there might be more, such as a sequel? I find myself wanting more when a story like finding JL finishes- do you feel the same about writing it or do you like to leave it be?

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

When I’m writing I like to leave the story with an uplifting ending and reassurance that everything will be ok but with enough wriggle room for the reader to imagine for themselves the future. This isn’t always a popular approach! Some readers love epilogues! Personally, I’m not so keen on epilogues (I want the story to end with a bang, so to speak). That’s unless the epilogue has a little outstanding detail that I’m dying to know!

Reader 2  4:52 PM

The canal walk and Anna’s mini realisation. So beautifully written

Reader 8  4:53 PM

Another great question would be if Jessica and Anna had a pet dragon, who would feed it and who would clean up after it? Who would take it for “walks”?

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

Bibs would come round to play with the pet dragon!

Reader 4  4:54 PM

Anna would feed it of course and Jessica would walk it! 🙂 They both equally clean up after it haha

Reader 10  4:58 PM

How do you feel your writing style has changed over time?  Is there a subject that you want to write about?

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

Great question about the writing style and I don’t know! I vary the style for each book so it’s difficult to tell. Hopefully I have better range at least than when I first started

Reader 4  5:01 PM

What’s your favorite part about writing?

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

Dreaming up scenes and when I’m immersed in the story and characters deeply enough for snippets of dialogue to almost write themselves. It’s very vivid.

Reader 4  6 days ago

I love that. I’m a very virtual reader. When it’s a really good book I can always see it playing like a movie in my head!

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

Me too! I love getting lost in a book with it all playing out.

Reader 2  5:03 PM

Having only read this book, which of yours should I read next?

Clare Ashton  6 days ago

Poppy Jenkins is my most popular book as a sunny romance (but always with a touch of angst). It’s set in mid Wales where I grew up so I have a soft spot for it :slightly_smiling_face: I adored writing The Goodmans – ensemble cast with humour and angst. I love writing family drama so that one is always a candidate for my favourite

Reader 3  5:06 PM

Poppy Jenkins, After Mrs. Hamilton, any one will be enjoyable

Reader 3  5:08 PM

Thank you, Clare Ashton…..for your clever mind and great reads. Looking forward to more.

Reader 4  5:09 PM

Thank You Clare and I’m looking forward to hopefully more from these amazing characters in the future! You would make alot of people happy! 🥰🥰

Reader 2  5:09 PM

Thanks Clare for a wonderful read and looking forward to discovering your other books.

Clare Ashton  5:10 PM

Thank you everyone! For reading the book and the great questions!