Lesfic Book Club: The Delicate Things We Make

For our January 2022 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed The Delicate Things We Make by Milena McKay. 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 to book club! So generally how this works is people ask questions, Milena you can either thread your replies or just reply right in the chat (or hit ’also send to #book-club and you get the best of both worlds)

What did everyone think of The Delicate Things We Make?

Reader 2  4:02 PM

Loved it.

Reader 3  4:02 PM

Super interesting, so different than the norm, loved it!

Reader 4  4:03 PM

Loved it too.

Reader 2  4:03 PM

How much research did you have to do for the book regarding art and fashion?

Milena McKay  4:04 PM

A moderate amount. Though I have a family history with the art world and fashion is something I’ve has some personal interest in.

Reader 3  4:04 PM

Where the idea first come to you? The whole concept was so well thought out and detailed in the book.

Milena McKay  4:05 PM

The idea came unbidden, sadly, because I do not know a single woman who hasn’t been through her version of the events that unfolded in the book.

Reader 5  4:05 PM

you definitely needed both to be able to connect the two.

Reader 6  4:06 PM

Who was you favorite character to create

Milena McKay  4:06 PM

ARABELLA :))

Arabella has my whole heart, she is modeled on Dame Maggie Smith from The First Wives Club

She was so much fun! The Award scene was one of the most favorite to write!

There are curse words that one just does not EVER use, but in that scene Arabella just let it all go and it was glorious to write!

Reader 6  4:08 PM

That was such an awesome scene

Milena McKay  4:08 PM

Vivian of course is the character that just tears you apart and builds you up and some of her scenes, especially the one where she tells Jamie what happened to her were rough.

Reader 7  4:09 PM

This was your first novel. How did you go from the idea to actually writing it?

Milena McKay  4:10 PM

I was so scared of actually PUBLISH it that I went the fanfiction route.

Reader 2  4:09 PM

Who was Vivian based off of, if anyone? And who would you cast for her in a movie if one was made?

Milena McKay  4:10 PM

Cate Blanchett is VIVIAN

But then, I imagine most of my characters as Cate Blanchett, at least initially, until they gain a face of their own.

Jamie is was and remained Anne Hathaway

Vivian is a combination of women, real life women who’ve gone through what the character has gone.

Reader 7  4:13 PM

Was it difficult to go from fanfic to novel?

Milena McKay  4:13 PM

It was and it wasn’t. I had so much support!

It was scary.

But I’ve learned in my year since my debut novel that it takes a village.

And if you’re blessed with that village, you will make it.

Reader 1  4:18 PM

That’s what’s so amazing about lesfic – so many “villagers” ready to support each other

Milena McKay  4:18 PM

Lesfic – to me- is a unique combination of simply the absolute best people

And they pick you up and help you and support you

I’ve been very very fortunate

Reader 8  4:14 PM

How long did it take you to write Delicate Things?

Milena McKay  4:14 PM

The story was written in maybe a month? it was in the middle of 2020 and everything was rather hopeless. The story gave me something to hold on to.

Reader 9  4:14 PM

Why did you choose a surname of Polish descent? Dworski?

Milena McKay  4:16 PM

I have to say that Dworski was chosen for the reason that it is rather close to DeVor. And I figured that Violet/Vivina would not want to lose quite the last vestiges of her identity when she made the leap.

Reader 3  4:15 PM

Looking at it now is there anything you would change or are you still happy with how the story developed and turned out?

Milena McKay  4:16 PM

I wouldn’t change the story, no. But I’d certainly tweak it in many many places,

The 2021 political developments in New York alone…

Reader 2  4:16 PM

Favorite Cate Blanchett character?

Milena McKay  4:16 PM

CAROL AIRD

Reader 7  4:19 PM

With fanfic, you have a lot of set parameters you work within. Character descriptions, characteristics etc. How hard was it to adapt that, or was it liberating too?

Milena McKay  4:20 PM

Adapting is at once fun and difficult. It’s fun because it is freeing and it is difficult because you’re stuck with the same story for a long time, like writing the same thing over and over again.

Reader 1  4:19 PM

Okay… time to make you choose favorites 🙂 Who are your favorite authors to read?

Milena McKay  4:20 PM

Clare Ashton, Lee Winter, EJ Noyes, Diana Kane, Tracy Richardson, Anna Burke, KJ – I’m sure I’m forgetting many many others

Reader 2  4:19 PM

Would you ever write a romance set in a fantasy world? Maybe with a blonde elvish woman as one of the leads?

Milena McKay  4:20 PM

Fantasy is something that has been rather insistently calling my name.

But not elves.

Reader 9  4:22 PM

How does your mind work when writing? Do you see images, scenes in front of you? What inspires you?

Milena McKay  4:23 PM

I’m a very visual person. I see scenes. Like a movie almost? It has to make sense, where they stand, how they smell… I’m rather obssessed with how the characters smell

Reader 10  4:22 PM

I have a question that’s not about this book. The Perfect Match is clever and cute (and my favorite novella from last year).  Where on earth did you come up with it?

Milena McKay  4:24 PM

The Perfect Match was a spontaneous idea. Just POP! And then in the process of plotting it fleshed out and became a whole small Cupid/God universe.

Reader 9  4:23 PM

What’s your favorite smell then…

Milena McKay  4:25 PM

Lily of the valley, wattle (acacia) in bloom

Daphne in bloom does it for me

fresh linen

Coffee

Reader 10  4:25 PM

I just have to say that my favorite thing about your novels isn’t the characters or plot lines.

You have an impressive way with words. When I start one of your novels, I have to clear my day. I cannot put them down.

Who was the hardest character for you to get right?

Milena McKay  4:27 PM

Benedict was very difficult.

Reader 10  4:27 PM

Oooh. Why Benedict?

Milena McKay  4:28 PM

because he’s in the wrong

But he isn’t evil

And that combination of a good man doing something that goes against his grain but still does it and continues to do it for some time before confessing only becasue he is caught

it’s not easy

he had to walk the line between being likable but still pretty bad and then swing back to good guy

Also for the longest time Vivian was difficult to wrangle

Jamie was easy

In some ways, we are all Jamie

But Vivian – was and remains a mystery, so how do you write a character revealing her without revealing her at all?

Reader 9  4:28 PM

If you could buy a painting from DeVor, what would you like the painting to be and what colors should it have.

Milena McKay  4:33 PM

A painting from DeVor. I love yellows. But I also love B&W so she’d have to do several for me

Reader 2  4:30 PM

If Jamie had another sibling what whiskey would they have been named after?

Milena McKay  4:30 PM

Jamie has 3 bothers:

Glen, John and Tully

For Glenfiddich, Johnny Walker and Tullamore DEW

Reader 2  4:33 PM

I was mostly curious what her other siblings would have been named if they hadn’t stopped at the 4. I’d like to know what other possibilities were out there.

Milena McKay  4:33 PM

Jim and Mark for sure

(Beam and Maker’s)

Reader 7  4:34 PM

Your characters’ names always have a deeper meaning. Do you come up with them as you write or is it one of the first things you think of?

Milena McKay  4:34 PM

Absolutely silly about the names, But names come first.

Reader 6  4:34 PM

Are you a fan of whiskey if so what is you go to

Milena McKay  4:34 PM

Jameson’s whole family history is based on her name.

I’m actually a teetotaler

Coffee, cranberry juice and fizzy water are my go to.

Coffee mostly

Reader 3  4:37 PM

What fanfic is currently “on your shelf” that you are reading?

Milena McKay  4:39 PM

I’m in the middle of wrangling a difficult WIP so reading has been set aside for the time being, unless it’s an old and dear friend to get me through something boring in real life

Reader 9  4:38 PM

What is the highest reward for you as a writer? Reading all your books it seems to me you always try to give hints to the readers… Your books are never what they seem at first sight… there’s always more behind your words. It’s like decyphering a deeper message… is that your intent or it comes naturally?

Milena McKay  4:39 PM

BEING READ IS THE HIGHEST REWARD

having an audience

being relevant

Reader 9  4:39 PM

Being understood?

Milena McKay  4:40 PM

I suppose if people keep reading my books – they understand me? Or want to?

Being SEEN is somewhat of a theme in most of my books.

I think we all seek it in our lives.

Reader 10  4:39 PM

Oh, you have a lifelong audience here. 100%. No arguments.

The day they come out they’re bought.

Reader 3  4:40 PM

I think the way you write your books, the level of detail, the intricacies waiting to be discovered and so so much more will lend your books to be able to be read and stay current forever.

Reader 10  4:42 PM

What was your favorite scene to write? In any of your novels?

Milena McKay  4:43 PM

Some of the scenes in The Headmistress were AMAZING to write

So very catarthic

Dont want to spoil those who have not read it

Reader 10  4:44 PM

If you haven’t read that one, you absolutely should. I had to wait a week to read it because of work (and the inability to put your novels down).

So. So. So. Good.

Reader 3  4:45 PM

@Reader 6 mentioned audio books, I have never listened to a book, how does it change a story or doesn’t it change it but enhance it?

Milena McKay  4:46 PM

I firmly believe that narration is CRUTIAL

I am very lucky that both Delicate Things and The Heamdistress will be narrated by Abby Craden, she’s an amazing actor and her narrations are always top notch, they enhance the book, make it more, give it life.

Reader 2  4:47 PM

If you had to choose between 10 million dollars or a machine that could clone your very own copy of Cate Blachett that would imprint themselves on you, which would you choose?

Milena McKay

I plead the fifth.

Reader 7  4:51 PM

What’s your favorite thing about writing? Least favorite?

Milena McKay  4:52 PM

Talking to people about my books! Does that count as the favorite thing about writing?

Editing is the worst!

I’m very lucky I have the absolute BESTEST editor in the world

(she’d strike BESTEST for not being a word. BUT IT SHOULD BE)

You know what else is difficult about writing?

Choosing the next book to write

When you have all these ideas

And they are just there

And you are sitting there thinking THIS ONE

But it’s never the correct one and halfway through you’re thinking gosh, I wish I’d chosen the other one, THAT would’ve been fun to write

Reader 10  4:54 PM

….when does the next one come out?!

Milena McKay  4:54 PM

It’s always the same with me

Touch wood, cross fingers, toes, legs, arms, everything – spring 2022.

It’s called A Whisper Of Solace

It’s set in Hollywood

An Ice Queen To Rule Them All

A girl-next-door

And the age-old question: WHAT MAKES AN ICE QUEEN WHO SHE IS?

Reader 11  5:00 PM

What’s one tip or advice you would give to a novice writer??? I’m writing fanfiction and it’s really well received but I’m also working on a novel…. Well started one and haven’t been back to it in years

Milena McKay  5:00 PM

Reader 11, find your people. There is no substitute for this piece of advice.

People in the genre that you write, but also just people in the writing community.

People will get you through the darkest hour of writing – and there will be many – people will be by your side, will beta and encourage, will tell you you suck and need to be better, will lift you up and hold you when you need it. People who will understand what a writer’s block is, what a new idea is, what a new obsession is.

People are really everything in this business.

Reader 2  5:01 PM

Light, medium or dark roast?

Milena McKay  5:03 PM

Medium roast FTW

Reader 10  5:03 PM

Do you have any pets? (Random, I know)

Milena McKay  5:03 PM

I do

A have a one year old puppster

Her name is Jameson

She’s a former street dog who needed rescuing

And yes, she’s Jameson cause of Delicate Things

Reader 10  5:05 PM

Most influential book when you were growing up?

Milena McKay  5:05 PM

Whoa, way too many, I was (am) a nerdy introverted kiddo

Reader 3  5:05 PM

Most reread book.

Milena McKay  5:05 PM

LOTR was lifechanging

for me as a kid

Haven’t read it a while

But in lesfic – I come back to Truth and Measure a LOT

To Jessica Lambert

To Breaking Character

To Noyes’ Gold

To Closer to Home – Spangler

Thursday Afternoons – Richardson

So so many

Oh, there was a thread of underapreciated books on twitter

Virginia Hale

A Secret Chord

So different

The subject may not be for everyone

But her WRITING

She’s so good with words

Reader 2  5:09 PM

I often forget I have Twitter.

Milena McKay  5:09 PM

I legit live there

And it’s the place where I met my people

So I owe a lot to the bird app

Reader 1  5:10 PM

Twitter is a good lesfic hangout spot, especially if you’re an author or aspiring to be

Follow your favorite authors there and then just jump in on the conversation – you’ll start meeting other readers and authors as you see who else jumps in

Milena McKay  5:12 PM

When I first got on twitter, I never tweeted. Just followed interesting people and favorite authors and swooned.

Then I slowly strated liking their stuff, then replying, and people were so very very kind.

LESFIC TWITTER is simple – pick an author, see who that author follows, follow those people!

That’s how I did it

And YES all the Cate Blanchett content is on Twitter

I take a look sometimes, for science

Thank you all!

This has been so so much fun!

I appreciate you all joining!

Reader 1  5:15 PM

Thank you so much for joining us, Milena!

Lesfic Book Club: Love in the Stacks

For our November 2021 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Love in the Stacks by Cara Malone. 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.

Cara Malone  4:03 PM

We read Love in the Stacks this month, but @Reader 4 suggested opening it up to anything else in my catalog you all want to discuss, and I’m fine with that if you are!

Reader 1  4:05 PM

Was it always the plan to connect all of your different series of books with the characters that are involved?

Cara Malone  4:07 PM

Pretty much! I didn’t go into writing book 1 thinking that way, but when I wrote Chelle as the best friend in Awakened, I knew I wanted to write her story too, and it’s just been happening ever since!

Reader 2  4:06 PM

Love In The Stacks!!! I loved it!! You know what I think appealed to me the most? Their instant attraction. That’s very intriguing to me. I didn’t come out until a few years ago and (TMI maybe) I’ve been with one woman. We talked for a while before anything happened. So the whole instant attraction and acting on it is foreign to me lol Like does that happen??

Cara Malone  4:09 PM

That’s one of my favorite things about romance – in real life, it’s usually a bad idea to jump right into bed with someone (unless that’s all you want). In a novel, you can be entirely uninhibited and tell your love interest exactly what you want without “being clingy” or scaring them away because they’re just as into it as you (because you wrote them that way haha)

Reader 4  4:06 PM

How did you come up with love in the stacks? I have theories. Lol

Cara Malone  4:10 PM

Hahaha are you asking me if I have first-hand experience? Because I -did- work in libraries for about a decade 😉

Reader 4  4:12 PM

Do you prefer to write insta love or slow burn?

What’s the hardest part of the pre-writing process?

Cara Malone  4:15 PM

Hmm… tough question! Younger me would have said slow burn because I used to be a real stickler for “realism” and it’s hard to make an instalove romance feel like a relationship that’s going to stand the test of time. But I’m working on an instalove right now that’s a ton of fun, and sometimes you just want to throw two people together and make them figure out how to overcome their obstacles right from the start

I think the hardest part of prewriting is knowing when to stop. On one hand I could spend months outlining and figuring out every little thing about my characters. On the other, I could jump right in and find all that out as I write. “Writing into the dark” usually results in more interesting stories with surprising developments, but then I have to edit a whole lot more to make it readable before I can publish.

Reader 1  4:13 PM

Do you prefer to write standalones or series?

Cara Malone  4:18 PM

For my sanity, since I publish often, series – it’s so much easier to do all the worldbuilding at the beginning and then know my characters for a year’s worth of writing in advance

That being said, some of my favorite books I’ve written have been standalones – Trail Magic, Good Vibes and The Beginning of Everything were a lot of fun to research and develop characters for

Reader 4  4:19 PM

Follow up – do you feel your stories would have taken a different turn had you chosen the other strategy (pre-written instead of pants it)? Or so you think your end result would have been the same no matter what?

Cara Malone  4:24 PM

Oh yeah, they would definitely be different books. The main characters would still live happily ever after because come on, it’s romance, but how they get there would certainly change. And I’d probably have gone bald and maybe given up trying to write full-time too, because my brain just doesn’t work that way, haha. Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, neither way is better than the other but that’s one thing that’s pretty much written into your DNA, based on conversations I’ve had with other writers

Reader 5  4:13 PM

Why jack… Where did u come up with his cantankerous person

Cara Malone  4:21 PM

Haha, oh Jack… he’s basically an amalgamation of stubborn, unhelpful coworkers I’ve had over the years, librarians and non-librarians. He’s basically Squidward – his job is to help people but he hates helping people

Reader 6  4:22 PM

It was good to know that working in a library has as much bureaucracy as nursing does. Maybe a different type but still crushingly slow to get anything changed.

Reader 7  4:21 PM

How much time do you spend writing (for books) in a typical day or week?

Cara Malone  4:26 PM

Not nearly as much as people probably think! After 5 years of experimenting with various schedules, I’ve pretty much decided that I’m a one chapter a day girl, and that takes me 1-2 hours. Of course being an indie author I also have marketing tasks and other admin things to do, but I always make sure the actual writing is the first thing because it’s the most important

Reader 3  4:27 PM

How many more books do you plan on adding to your Fur-Ever Series?? I want more animal love!

Cara Malone  4:28 PM

I have ideas for 3 more at the moment and I’m really only limited by the number of animals I can think of

Reader 5  4:34 PM

OK I got a Wierd question… Did I just happen to buy an earlier version of the paperback or am I tripping… The chick on the cover is wearing white but on my book it’s black

Cara Malone  4:37 PM

Is the word Love pink or blue? I did tweak it but it’s been years

Apparently blue is a more universally appealing color for book covers – got that little tip from Harper Bliss

Reader 5  4:37 PM

Ahhhhh that’s cool to know

Reader 6  4:38 PM

Good to know

Reader 3  4:38 PM

Hmm who would have thought

Cara Malone  4:41 PM

So, I have a question for you all… what would you say your breakdown is between reading lesbian romance and other genres of lesbian fiction? And do you think there’s enough to choose from of whatever other genres you like? (Okay, 3 questions… what genres are those?)

Reader 2  4:43 PM

I enjoy reading just about anything lol Lesbian romance is probably my favorite right now because well I’m still kinda a baby lesbian I guess lol So learning. :woman-shrugging::skin-tone-3:But I love a good mystery. Your Fox County Forensics series is definitely at the top of my all time faves list.

Cara Malone  4:50 PM

Fox County was a surprise for me – I went into it thinking I was writing Lakeside, but at the coroner’s office, and it’d be a straightforward romance, but then the series turned into romantic suspense and I had a ton of fun with it. Will definitely write more 😀

Reader 3  4:44 PM

Hmm. I like Mystery and Medical more then just the romance of lesbian fiction for sure. Other layers in a story besides just romance I believe gives the characters a bit more angst to work with.

Reader 8  4:46 PM

I forgot to reread the book, so I’ll just ask my me question. Would you ever write a sci-fi murder mystery set aboard a space station? Lesbian protagonist of course.

Cara Malone  4:53 PM

Sure! I agree with @Reader 3, it’s probably not a good fit for my Cara Malone catalog, but it sounds like a fun challenge. Maybe throw in some dinosaurs and a Michael Myers-type character just to really crank it up to 11

Reader 7  4:51 PM

Two questions: one easy, one tougher. The easy one: what should we expect next from you?/what are you working on these days? And the tough one: Of all the books you’ve published so far, which one’s your favorite?

Cara Malone  4:56 PM

Easy one: I asked readers if they’d prefer a Christmas/winter holiday book every couple of years, or if they’d rather have different holidays all taking place on Emerald Mountain where my existing Christmas book takes place. They said the latter, so I’m writing an opposites attract instalove Valentine’s Day story that is delightfully over the top

Tough one… really is a tough one! I think I’d have to go with The Beginning of Everything because it takes place over multiple decades so I felt like I really got to know those characters in a deeper way. I also learned a TON about the LGBTQ+ rights movement in the US from the 60s to present, and it was really cool to be able to pass on what I learned through the story

Phew, that hour flew by! Did I miss any questions or does anyone have any last remarks/comments/questions?

Reader 3  5:10 PM

Are you ever going to do the huge meet of Nat with all the lakeside folks! I need a get together of them all! Like so badly still!

Cara Malone  7 days ago

Probably not as a novel, but I was thinking that it’d be fun to do another Love Everlasting newsletter-only story

It’s been 5 years and I still get choked up when I think about how amazing everyone I’ve met thru lesfic is. I had no clue if anyone would read what I wrote, and not only am I able to do this full-time, which is the dream, you all have become such great friends. I love you 🙂

Lesfic Book Club: All At Sea

For our October 2021 meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed All At Sea by Cheyenne Blue. 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.

Cheyenne Blue  3:56 PM

Good Morning! 6am here in Oz, and I’m bright(ish) and perky(ish) and partly caffeinated.

Reader 1  3:57 PM

Thanks for being with us!!!

Reader 2  3:59 PM

Before the chat gets going and all the stuff that might spoiler me gets discussed I’m going to throw my one “me” question out there and then get back to reading.

Would you consider writing a somewhat sci-fi story set in space? Romance among the stars? Space yachts? Space whales? Romance and maybe a little adventure thrown in?

Cheyenne Blue  4:02 PM

Honestly? I’ve never thought of it. I love reading that stuff (a Battlestar Galactica type of book is fantastic) but I don’t think I could write one. Space whales is intriguing

Reader 3  4:03 PM

I wanted to ask can you sail?

Cheyenne Blue  4:04 PM

I can sail a bit, as in, I’ve been sailing, and I do okay if someone tells me what to do. “Pull this”, “sit over there”, “turn the wheel… no the OTHER WAY!!!” but I don’t call myself a sailor. For AaS, my great old mate Bazza let me interview him about all things sailing and then was a first reader for the sailing bits. I do enjoy the sailing I’ve done though

Reader 1  4:06 PM

I love the age difference between your characters. I am 12 years older than my girlfriend and I love when that’s normalized in books! People are weird about it sometimes!

Cheyenne Blue  4:07 PM

People are weird about age differences, and it’s all about the people involved in the relationship, IMHO. A creepy relationship is creepy regardless of the difference

Reader 3  4:07 PM

How about your experience with protesting on the water. That scene with the big boat and skirting in front had me on the edge of my seat

Cheyenne Blue  4:07 PM

Zero experience protesting on the water!  I dreamed that part of AaS after watching an old doco about protesters in yachts protesting nuclear tankers in NZ waters. And I had Bazza to help me keep it real and doable

BTW, Bazza taught me a lot about sailing when he was reading AaS and he told me he learned a lot about lesbian sex!!! Not in a creepy way, Baz is a darling. But halfway through the book, he sent me a cute note saying he wasn’t sure if he should read on as he “might get too hot and bothered”

Baz is 76

Reader 4  4:11 PM

I don’t know how I would feel if I ended up in Stevie’s position, trapped on a boat, but it was such a novel way to throw two characters together in a cramped space

Did you have a hard time not letting them get together in their initial time together? Because I was rooting for it the whole time

Cheyenne Blue  < 1 minute ago

Funny you mention that. I originally wrote it that way… with them sleeping together on Delilah (the yacht) but my editor suggested moving it out, for a) unresolved sexual tension, and b) to avoid any potential power differential issue it being Kaz’s yacht and her holding the upper hand

Reader 3 Today at 4:19 PM

I also loved the yacht cat

Cheyenne Blue  < 1 minute ago

Sinbad is indeed a somewhat cranky darling. There are actually cats who live on yachts. I found a few YouTube videos when I was researching

Reader 3  4:23 PM

I love the locations you keep taking us to.  They aren’t usually real cities though.  Do you scope out locations before adding them to your books.

Cheyenne Blue  1 minute ago

I’m glad you love the locations. :slightly_smiling_face: However, while I usually change the names, they are mostly based on real towns/cities.  Wallanbindi, for example, the town in AaS is based on the real small town of Eden on the southern coast of NSW. Setting a book in a town I know means I  can keep the geography straight in my head a lot better!

Reader 5  4:23 PM

A Heart This Big was my first I read of yours and I have to say is my favorite! :purple_heart:

Reader 4  4:24 PM

Was the first love scene originally right after the bioluminescence? As I was reading that I was like, “Damn, this is the most romantic thing involving a toilet that I’ve ever seen” 😀

Reader 7  4:26 PM

It sounds quite surreal

Did you plan that scene ahead of time or was it something you stumbled on as you researched?

Cheyenne Blue  1 minute ago

It was the scene after the bioluminescence. You’re good, Reader 4! And that is truly a thing on yachts, as the toilet takes in seawater to flush

I had planned the bioluminescence ahead –like the whales, I wanted the magical moments to balance the terrifying moments on board. But the bioluminescence in the toilet, well, that was Bazza again.  He told me so many magical and strange things from his time at sea (including some that he made me swear not to use or repeat!)

Reader 4  1 minute ago

Did he sail as a career or for pleasure?

Cheyenne Blue  < 1 minute ago

Pleasure

Reader 4  4:33 PM

What tropes or genres do you like to read when you’re not busy writing?

Cheyenne Blue  < 1 minute ago

In sapphic fic, I love anything with a found family, fake romance, anything with horses, small town settings. Scifi stories.  But I love being surprised by a book. I only recently read Jae’s Backwards to Oregon series, as historical stories aren’t my favourite. And of course I fell hard for the Oregon series.

Reader 5  4:34 PM

Would you ever write a sequel to any of your books?? And if so which one?

Cheyenne Blue  1 minute ago

I have a series, Girl Meets Girl, which is four novellas/novels with interconnecting characters, although they all stand alone. Since then, I haven’t been tempted to write a series, although I’ve started putting in tiny hints about characters from previous books into other books. All at Sea, for example reuses characters from a short story in one of Ylva’s anthology. The xmas anthology. The nursing aide, Luce, who buddies with Stevie on her first day.

Reader 6  4:36 PM

What country do you feel most of your readers come from?

Cheyenne Blue  3 minutes ago

I think most come from the US (based on sales data) but there are many readers in Germany, for both English books and the German translations. (I have 6 books translated into German).

Reader 3  2 minutes ago

Why German?

Cheyenne Blue  < 1 minute ago

The readers or the translations? The readers… I guess there’s a lot of lesfic readers in Germany (again, from sales figures), the translations because I’m with Ylva Publishing, and they’re a German company, and they do a lot of in-house translations of their authors and others

Reader 4  < 1 minute ago

Is it challenging to work with a publisher in a different country?

Cheyenne Blue  3 minutes ago

No, not challenging at all working with Ylva. They’re a fantastic publisher to work with. The time difference means I often wake up to emails from them, but that’s okay. Practically speaking, there’s not really any difference to say, working with an American publisher. And time differences are wonky with everywhere when you’re in Oz

Reader 3  4:37 PM

Can you tease what we might see in your future books?

Cheyenne Blue  2 minutes ago

My next book is out in exactly one month! It’s called The Number 94 Project, and it’s set in Melbourne, Australia. And when you mentioned real towns, well, most of the settings in #94 are 100% real.  It’s about Jorgie who inherits a dilapidated inner-city house and thinks she’ll renovate and sell. But her uncle’s Will has a very unusual clause. And then there’s Marta the next door neighbour….  It’s got found family, my favourite secondary character that I’ve ever written, and the best cover I’ve ever had!!

Reader 3  1 minute ago

Yeah, I’ve seen the cover and it made me go out and buy a tool belt to hold my gardening tools.

Reader 7  4:47 PM

Am I recalling correctly that part of the inspiration for this book was the real life tattooed badass who was in the news a couple of years ago? She did a protest thing, maybe we refugees?

Cheyenne Blue  1 minute ago

There wasn’t a particular person who was an inspiration for Kaz, but there are often protests of the extreme kind going on, particularly around the coal mines in Oz

Reader 4 Today at 4:53 PM

Do you get the opportunity to hang out with any other Australian lesfic authors? I know it’s a pretty big country but there do seem to be a lot of you there 🙂

Cheyenne Blue  < 1 minute ago

I live very close to S.R. Silcox and we hang out quite a bit. And I’ve met up with Rach Byrne from Les Reveur when I was last in Melbourne. No one else (yet) though. And Harper Bliss and Caroline have stayed with us a couple of times when they visited Oz back in the days when we could all travel!

Reader 3  4:54 PM

How has the pandemic limited writing collaborations?

Cheyenne Blue  < 1 minute ago

I’ve never collaborated with another author for a book, so I guess I’d have to say nothing has changed!!. For the editing process though, nothing’s changed as that’s all via email and Zoom anyway.

Reader 3  3 minutes ago

Would you ever think of collaborating with another author?

Cheyenne Blue  < 1 minute ago

I don’t know about collaborating. It could be great fun

Thank you everyone for chatting and for your great questions.  I’ve had a blast talking to you all.

Thank you for reading All at Sea and for inviting me here

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