Lesfic Book Club: All the Love Songs

For our May meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed All the Love Songs by Nicole Pyland. 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.

Nicole Pyland  4:00 PM

Hi everyone, I’m here!

Reader 2  4:01 PM

Hi from the UK Nicole. Loved the book. Was Kenzie always going to be a neuro diverse character?

Nicole Pyland  4:01 PM

She was, yes. From the start, I’d always planned on that.

Reader 2  4:02 PM

I think you captured her really well.

Reader 3  4:02 PM

Hey yall I made it hahaha loved the book it made me cry a bit

Nicole Pyland  4:02 PM

Thank you. I appreciate that.

Reader 2  4:04 PM

When you wrote the book did you know there was a also a prequel just waiting to be written, which I’ve recently read.

Nicole Pyland  4:05 PM

Not really, no. I wrote ATLS with the intention of it being a standalone book. Later, I kept thinking about Dani & Peyton and their story, and it became one of the books I had to write.

Reader 1  8 days ago

Dani and Peyton are such fully realized characters I was surprised when I found out that their book was written second. Do you tend to dig deep into all of your characters like that while you’re figuring out the story?

Reader 5  8 days ago

I thought i’d missed something when I saw this is now book 2. I read it before book 1 was released I think

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

yes, they literally all live in my head and it’s confusing. my wife was worried at one point that I might say “Hey, I’m off to have coffee with ___.” and it would be a character. Lol

Reader 6  4:05 PM

I’ve never heard of an autistic character referred to as graceful before. Most of the people I know on the spectrum (including myself) are more on the awkward and clumsy side of things. I’m curious as to where this originated. I don’t know everything there is to know about autism so I’m always looking to learn more.

Reader 3 May 31st at 4:06 PM

When you wrote the book what was the inspiration behind lennox’s character

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I didn’t have an overall inspiration for the character. I just wanted the right woman for Kenzie, and that’s where she came from.

Reader 6 May 31st at 4:06 PM

You did well writing all the parts regarding sensory overload.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

Thank you. I deal with these things myself, so I used a bit of my own experiences to describe them.

Kenzie felt like a graceful person to me, and it seemed like something that most people wouldn’t notice, but Lennox did and that made it special.

Reader 5 May 31st at 4:07 PM

the gracefulness made sense bc my brain is constantly trying to optimize. As is my wife’s and we’re both on the spectrum

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I say this to my wife all the time “Be more efficient with your movements.” lol

She’s glaring at me right now after having read that.

Reader 5  4:08 PM

So are you also on the spectrum? Or adjacent?

Nicole Pyland  4:08 PM


Reader 4 May 31st at 4:11 PM

You write with do much heart and each character is filled with wonderful nuances and wit. How did you feel about opening yourself up, and allowing yourself to write honestly? Because All of it came through beautifully.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I’m getting more used to it now, but it was hard in the beginning. I think fanfiction helped a lot here because I could post it, people could read it and tell me if they liked it and since they usually did, I got my confidence to write original stuff.

Reader 1 May 31st at 4:13 PM

How did you come up with the concept for adult summer camp? I loved that

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

It was just something that came to me, and I wrote it in my notes and then when I had the idea for Kenzie and the celebrity squad, it all came together.

Reader 7  8 days ago

I took my granddaughter and friends to an all day concert and there was an adult day care tent.  A/C, chargers, water, etc.  Cool.  Love the idea.

Reader 2 May 31st at 4:13 PM

I found it so interesting that you wrote someone who describes herself as awkward doing a job where everyone wants a piece of her. The tension  of these opposing positions was so interesting to read.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

Yeah, I feel that in my day job myself a lot. So much of it is not my natural state and over the past decade or so, I’ve had to develop coping mechanisms and keep pushing myself when I’m put in situations I wouldn’t really like.

It made sense to me that Kenzie would use acting in that regard.

Reader 5  8 days ago

I don’t know how many people caught it, but I really like that Kenzie didn’t know how to dance because she never had to learn for a role. There is so much summed up in that one sentence that it stuck with me.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I feel like it was something she and Lennox would both understand. It’s also the reality of being on the spectrum for a lot of us, which I’m sure you understand @Reader 5

Reader 5  8 days ago

Yeah and then Lennox not even questioning or pushing her was so good!

Reader 8 May 31st at 4:15 PM

Not so much a question, but: One of the things I liked about the book was the balance. For me, your book had a great balance of wish fulfillment (imagining falling in love with a celebrity crush) and… reality (in my case, there were scenes that reminded me of the early days of my relationship with my wife)

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

Yeah, there’s a suspension of disbelief a little, but it’s nice to think about that the person you’re crushing on is also crushing on you and then it turns out to be real.

Reader 1  8 days ago

And I think anyone could fall in love in a canopy in the woods – great romantic setting

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I remember picturing that thing in my head for whatever reason and feeling like I had to put it in this book.

Reader 6 May 31st at 4:16 PM

I am curious if Maddox will be getting their own book at some point in the future.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

It may or may not be the next book in the series.

Reader 1  8 days ago

Woo hoo – I love Maddox

Reader 9  8 days ago

me too! Here interactions with Kenzie was great.

Reader 2 May 31st at 4:17 PM

All the love songs has a large supporting cast. Is this part of your masterplan for a huge series?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

As my wife will tell you, I never have masterplans. I have little surprises where I tell her upfront “I’m not writing anymore in this series.” Fast forward a few days or even months, “So, I think I’m going to add to that series I told you I was done with.”

Reader 2  8 days ago

Hahaha. Maybe you just need to percolate!

Reader 1  8 days ago

Whoa, I am in awe of that – I can’t even brush my teeth without a plan in place 🙂 So would you say you’re a pantser when you write?

Reader 6  8 days ago

Or perhaps do you plot in small doses (a book at a time) and pants the overall series?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

It honestly just depends on the book. For some of them, iI’ll write a general outline. Recently, I’ve been writing more detailed ones, but I rarely used to outline at all. That’s true with this book. No outline. Just wrote it with no plan.

Generally speaking, I just get an idea and start writing. Then, if I like the side characters I’ve created, sometimes I get the pull to make them fall in love in their own books. That’s how pretty much all of my existing series have turned out coming to fruition.

Reader 4  8 days ago

That is amazing. I think I spend too much time planning. Maybe Going with the flow is the thing to do.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I think it’s about finding your process honestly. Sometimes, outlining holds me back, so I don’t. Sometimes I need it, so I do it.

Reader 4  8 days ago

When is your next book due to come out? And do you have an ARC team?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

Always More (1st book in the sports series) just came out and the next one if A Shot at Gold (book 2) on July 16th. I do have an ARC team. If people reach out on my site and request to join, I usually send them the form to sign up.

Reader 4 May 31st at 4:19 PM

You mention fanfiction, where do you post

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I haven’t in years, but I’m on fanfiction.net and archive.


Reader 6 May 31st at 4:19 PM

I don’t know if Reader 5 will have time to ask these before they have to run off, so I’ll ask for them. 1) Where did the idea for the book come from? 2) Was it hard to write the angsty parts?

2 replies

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I had three random ideas that then turned into the book. 1. adult summer camp 2. girl squad and 3. Kenzie’s character

Yes, it’s always hard for me to write angst after I watch them fall in love. I just want them to be happy.

Reader 2 May 31st at 4:21 PM

First book of yours I read was the one with Eve and Ember. I didn’t realise it was part of a series, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. Do you feel you need to read them in order to get maximum enjoyment?

5 replies

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

Depends on the series, honestly. I wrote Fresh Start (book 0) with no intention of writing more. Then, I wrote The Best Lines. So, it can standalone, but Hannah and Alyssa are in book 0.

If you then want to read more about the other characters falling in love, you can read the other books, but I generally write books with just that couple’s story in mind so you can technically read them solo too.

Reader 8  8 days ago

Best of both worlds: I can be so completist about reading series, but sometimes it’s just nice to pick up a book.

Reader 7  8 days ago

I think it’s better read in order.  Chicago still one of my favorite series.  Love Hailey and Charlie.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I read a lot myself, so I like to find the first book in a series whenever I can. It’s why I created the character connection page on my website, so people would always know where to start. I’ve ended up mid-series as a reader at times, and I always feel like I’m missing something.

Reader 1 May 31st at 4:25 PM

Could you see yourself writing full-time if the opportunity presented itself?

4 replies

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I used to think no, but as I’m getting older, I can see myself doing it, yes.

Reader 1  8 days ago

You write so prolifically I assumed that you were full-time until you just mentioned otherwise – you go girl : D

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

No, I have a stressful day job. I usually write most evenings and on the weekends. I’m lucky. I write very fast.

Reader 8 May 31st at 4:28 PM

I also wanted to applaud the representation: I liked that it wasn’t anywhere close to her entire character. And it didn’t fall into the “obstacle or gift” dichotomy, but showed that (like so much else in life) that aspect of her had both positives and negatives for Kenzie

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I wanted to show that it’s part of who she is, but not all of who she is because that’s how I know I feel, and I think that can be applied universally; not just with being on the spectrum.

Reader 2 May 31st at 4:29 PM

What’s your ‘day job’ and how on earth do you fit it all in?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I direct a training team of about 20 people at a tech startup.

It’s taken me a while to get the whole work/life balance thing. I’m not perfect at it, but in my home office (since I’m working from home right now due to COVID), I have a set space for my day job and a space for my writing. That helps.

Reader 1  8 days ago

That separation is so important.

Reader 2  8 days ago

That sounds….. intense! I am rubbish at working from home. Too many distractions, too many dogs to snuggle!

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I have 2 cats. one is downstairs. the other is and I’m quoting my wife here right now, “Trying to get in trouble.”

So, I get it.

Teresa May 31st at 4:32 PM

Hi Nicole. I loved the book. I would like to know how long it takes to write a book? You always seem to have a book out for us to read!

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

It depends on the book. For ALTS, I finished the first draft of it in a weekend. For some of the others, it’s usually about 2 weeks for a draft. Others do take longer, but that’s usually because there’s something going on at work on in my life and I need to pause until I can get back to it. I’d say I easily hit the 10K a day mark almost every day and sometimes, I write much more.

Reader 4  8 days ago

You are truly gifted.

Reader 5 May 31st at 4:33 PM

Does your wife read your books?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

She’s the first reader. I know how much she likes it by how late she stays up reading it.

She runs the business side of the publishing, so she gets dibs. My writing is also how we met. She read my stuff on fanfiction and messaged me. We got together later after that. So, my writing is a big part of our relationship. I’m very lucky it’s not something she tolerates, but something she’s loves and participates in.

Reader 8 May 31st at 4:34 PM

With balancing both a day job and a writing life, how much time do you work on your writing in an average day/week?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I’m usually at it at least 1-2 hours a night when I’m writing. On the weekends, I’m writing most of the day, but I do stop for breaks and meals (assuming I remember I’m supposed to eat), so I’d say maybe 15-20 on avg.

Reader 2 May 31st at 4:35 PM

I really enjoyed The Fire and The Disappeared. Any plans to go more in this direction again?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I have one idea I’ve had sitting in my notes app. I haven’t written it yet. Mainly, what happens is I get an idea, write that down and then have a new idea (or an old one) pop into my head and I trust that. When my brain is telling me to write an idea, I trust that and do that one instead of going down my list, so I’ll get to it at some point. I’m sure there will be more too. My degree is in criminal justice and behavior analysis, so I’m always into writing more in that genre.

Reader 9  8 days ago

I loved The Fire. One of my top three books of yours. The Disappeared was great too.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

Thank you. Both of those were really intense, but fun to write.

For The Fire I spent a whole day just trying to come up the names for the characters because I wanted them to be opposite, Ripley is water themed and Kenna is fire themed.

Reader 9  8 days ago

yes, they were intense as a reader but damn, oh, can I say that word…the way you wrote the characters was amazing. I especially loved Ripley and Kenna connection.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

they were really important to me. for whatever reason, I wanted them to find each other and be together, and I wanted them to have to fight through some stuff and earn it.

Reader 9  8 days ago

Excellent book. Can’t say it enough.That’s deep…how you came up with the characters names.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

It was a lot of googling and finding the right ones

Reader 1 May 31st at 4:38 PM

What’s your favorite genre/trope/fandom to read in (if you even have free time anymore haha)?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I listen to books every day, so that’s how I find time to read. I usually read at least a book a week depending on how long they are. I don’t know that I have a favorite. It depends on my mood. I am 99% of the time though reading lesfic. Outside of lesfic, True crime is up there. I should read books on business, leadership and blah blah blah, but I’d rather read something else.

Reader 1  8 days ago

Who’s your favorite lesfic author?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I have a couple right now. I generally read/listen to anyone that’s on Audible, but I just finished Elle Spencer’s latest and I’m a Brayden fan too.

Reader 9  8 days ago

Glad to know I am not the only one who reads lesfic 99% of the time. 😉

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I don’t think I’ve picked up an actual physical book in years. i’ve been buying books on Audible and listening to a ton of lesfic since before I started publishing. I think I really only have a couple of business books in my Audible library, all the Harry Potter books, The Diary of Anne Frank and the rest is all lesfic.

Reader 9  8 days ago

I’m a Brayden fan too. Loved her Seven Shores series, expecially ELT.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

that’s my favorite in that series as well.

Reader 10 May 31st at 4:43 PM

Are you planning on writing books outside of your comfort zone? Sorry I am late I am making chicken gumbo

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

Pretty much everything I write is out of my comfort zone. lol The Moments was out of my comfort zone when I wrote that one. Many of my sex scenes are out of my comfort zone. lol ATLS was definitely out of my comfort zone because it was so personal. I try to tell stories differently whenever I can. I have a few written that will come out at some point that are also like that.

Reader 4  8 days ago

I think that’s what makes it so authentic. You dig really deep down to the point where the connections between the characters I raw an honest.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I think that’s the Aspergers thing. My default state is that 99% of things are out of my comfort zone.

Reader 2 May 31st at 4:45 PM

Any plans on a different genre, say historical or sci-fi?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

historical- nothing yet. I did just have an idea pop into my mind for a possible sci-fi book. I wrote it down to maybe use later. Sports is up right now. then, I have some different one-offs that I hope people like.

Reader 9  8 days ago

Starting the first book in the first series today. Just finished reading ATLS again.

Reader 11 May 31st at 4:46 PM

Hi Nicole,  Loved both books in this series.  I re-read both in the past couple of weeks.  “Fresh Start” was one of the first books in lesbian romance I read.  It really affected me and turned me into a fan of the genre.  Thanks for the great books!

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

Thank you! Fresh Start is special to me. It’s the first real lesfic I wrote that wasn’t fanfic, but my own. I’d written stuff before (that I rarely finished), but not lesfic and nothing worth publishing.

Reader 4 May 31st at 4:48 PM

Being that many of these books a personal, do they ever takes so much out of you that you have to take a break from writing?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

Honestly, no. I usually need to take a break from writing because my hands hurt from typing. When that happens, I revise mostly. While I’m revising though, I’m usually itching to get back to writing.

Reader 2  8 days ago

Sounds like you’re a writing ninja lol!

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

that made my wife laugh

Reader 10 May 31st at 4:51 PM

Is there going to to a answer to the brother on The Disappeared?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

No, unfortunately not. I made that a conscious decision that I know some people had a problem with, but I wanted it to be as real as possible. The reality is that when something like this happens, the family so often never gets answers.

I wrestled with a lot. I knew people would want to know, but the truth is, I don’t even know what happened to him. I wrote the book that way intentionally not trying to come up with an answer because I knew I’d find a sneaky way to leave clues and/or to incorporate it and that just didn’t feel like the right way to end the book for me.

Reader 2  8 days ago

As a reader I did want the answer to that question but I respect that life is not neat.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

Yeah, I get that. I wish life could be a little “neater” these days.

Reader 9 May 31st at 4:52 PM

I’m just going say it…I love how you write the sex scenes. They have so much passion. Being that writing them are outside your confort zone how is that you write them so well? What’s your process if any at all?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I wish I could tell you I had some grand process where I mapped things out and knew what the heck I was doing, but that would be a lie. I don’t. This will sound cliche for sure, but I do what my characters tell me to do. That includes but is not limited to the sex scenes. If they’re sassier with each other outside of the bedroom, they might be sassier in the bedroom. That kind of a thing. I try to make sweet moments as well as some hot, passionate ones in each book if I can, because I think that’s reality, but that’s the extent of my planning.

Reader 8  8 days ago

From what I read in this book, it works! (Definitely won’t be the last book of yours I read!)

Reader 9  8 days ago

Wow…I love how you just explained that. I feel you hit every sex scene perfectly for ALL your characters.

Reader 10 May 31st at 4:56 PM

What are your favorite characters or couple in your books?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

Kenzie & Lennox, Ember & Eva, Dylan & Ada and now Everly & Wyatt.

That’s ATLS, The Best Lines, The Disappeared and Always More (books)

Reader 7  8 days ago

I still vote for Charlie and Hailey.

Reader 9  8 days ago

Loved, loved Ember & Eva. I’ve read that book at least five times.

Reader 10  8 days ago

Dang, I have go with Fresh Start couple.

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I love Charlie and Hailey too. They frustrated the hell out of me though. Lol

Reader 2 May 31st at 4:57 PM

What book are you most proud of?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

I’m proud of a lot of them for different reasons. I think ALTS is probably the one I’m most proud of overall. It took a lot for me to write it because it is, in a way, personal and then to publish and see the reaction from people who read it.

Reader 4 May 31st at 4:58 PM

I think of your books as insightful and honestly therapeutic And I’m sure I’m not the only one. So how does it feel to be the one to have helped so many people gain an understanding and compassion for those on the spectrum?

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

Honestly… weird.

I write for myself. Always have. So, to find out that something I’ve written has helped someone be more comfortable with who they are (whether it be this or with their own sexuality) is one of the best things I’ll ever do.

Reader 4  8 days ago

And you do it so well, Thank You!  I honestly can’t remember which one of your books was the first I read, but I will tell you it took me less than a week to read everyone of your books. It was a whole new meaning to binge reading.

Reader 9  8 days ago

Read all of them. Seriously, they are all great!

Nicole Pyland  8 days ago

Thank you!

If anyone is interested, you can hop over to my site, create a login and get some free stuff right now (like The Proposal Series) and the What Happened After (ATLS and No After You). https://nicolepyland.com/

Lesfic Book Club: Popcorn Love

For our April meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Popcorn Love by KL Hughes. 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 

So, what did everybody think of Popcorn Love? Was it your first KL Hughes read?

Reader 1

No, it was my 4th!

Plus, it was my first ever lesfic

Plus I read it when it was still a Swan Queen fanfiction

Reader 2 

my first

I adore Alison

Reader 4 

I’ve read several of KL Hughes, when she was writing as Chrmdpoet in SQ fanfic.

but this is the second book I’d read.

I also read it when it was SQ fanfic. I liked the changes she made to the storyline and character histories for the published version.

Reader 3 

After the first scene, I disliked both Elena and Vivian so much… but then the next scene, with Elena at home, she became a real and likeable character for me, and the rest of the book was wonderful…

Cara Malone

What do you think makes for a likeable protagonist with flaws, and an unlikeable one?

Reader 4 

it’s that glimmer of possibility that they are not happy in their “messed up” ways

Reader 2 

One thing I loved was how real Alison was.
Elena was harder for me, she sounded so much older than she was supposed to be, but I think part of that was also the narrator.

I still like Elena though

Reader 1 

I think it was supposed to be the way she was brought up in her family

Reader 4 

Elena is more mature, even if she is messed up. She’s corporate, business-minded, and a full-time mother with obligations. There’s a natural maturity to that state of being. However, I also liked that KL established that Elena and Vivian had their manners drubbed into them.

Reader 4 

That also gave qualifiers to Elena sounding “older”

Reader 3 

I think I imagined Elena to be what my mother would have hoped I’d turn out to be. (shudder)

Cara Malone 

So this Reeses-popcorn snack… have you guys had this?

Reader 1  4:12 PM

Yes, I did tried it after reading it

Cara Malone 

It seems like it can’t be as orgasmic as Alison makes it out to be, but at the same time, I think I might be missing out

What did you think @Reader 1?

Reader 1 

It was okay, nothing out of this world

Cara Malone 

I think it appears in another book we’ve read recently… Just Jorie maybe?

Reader 4

I wonder if KL put that in as an “easter egg” for fans?

Reader 3 

A waste of good Reeses Pieces – mostly because I don’t have the patience to get popcorn remnants out from around my teeth, so I avoid it now

Reader 4 

I’ve thrown lots of things into my popcorn but not chocolate or anything like that. I’ve eaten Crackerjacks and Twaddle which are caramel coated popcorn-peanuts mixtures. So I imagined it as a “homemade” version of that.

Reader 4 

I think it was a good way to establish their differences in a concrete example. Allison isn’t “storebought” anything. She’ll make it herself or do without. But she has her vices, and Elena who has all this money for vices, has so few.

Cara Malone

I love that. They’re definitely an ‘opposites attract’ couple – Allison is all about physical experiences while Elena prioritizes the emotional/her son, etc.

Reader 2 

I could see it being phenomenal for a kid growing up in the system though

When you have nothing, food becomes more important

Reader 4 


that whole maslow’s hierarchy

and people develop complexes/reactions from extended exposure particularly as children.

Reader 3 

Also, the things that seem special to us as children often seem to remain special for us (even if as “guilty pleasures”) into adulthood

I think especially for children that may have grown up with less than their friends

Reader 4 

encapsulating characterization in the little actions is definitely a KL strength

Reader 2 

Randomly, I also liked that Alison didn’t mention that she sings or performs.

Reader 4 

the hard part of a book like this is picking one scene to “sum up the relationship” . It’s all built on such small details that add up over time.

Like a real couple, IMHO

you look at the 50-year married couple and ask “what makes it so strong?” and there’s not just one thing. It’s a lot of little things.

Cara Malone 

And the fact that Allison was equally excited to spend time with Lucas and Elena was so sweet

Granted she started as the babysitter so of course she likes kids, but not everyone would have incorporated him into so many of their dates like she did

Reader 4 

A dream of many single parents. To find a partner who loves your kids as much as you do

Plus, seeing someone interact well with a kid makes you love them more

for some people it’s a “test” that a potential partner can either pass or fail.

Reader 1 

Lucas is a sweet little thing

Cara Malone

Is there a Lucas character in Once Upon a Time or was he added by KL?

Reader 1 

Yes, Lucas was supposed to be Henry, Regina’s adoptive Son and biologic son of Emma

Reader 4 

Lucas is a “young” Henry for direct correlation, but probably more modeled after Roland, the son of Robin and Marian that Regina helped raise for a bit.

Roland is/was about Lucas’s age, whereas Henry starts in OUAT as a 10-year old

and we only see him as an infant in flashbacks in OUAT

but again, that’s one of the modifications that really worked well for shifting from fanfic to original fic

Cara Malone

I never read the fanfic but Lucas was definitely a highlight in this story

Loved the blind dates too – great comic relief

Reader 3

I also loved how the relationship with Elena’s mother went from the dreaded interrogation to she and Allison teaming up to tease Elena

Reader 2

I’m so glad the middle date was purposely making it bad. I was concerned lol

Reader 3 

Oh, those blind dates were wonderfully horrific!

Made me so glad that I never went on a blind date!

Reader 4 

Finding out the shift in who to set her up with was a great way to show Vivian’s awareness.

Cara Malone 

Oh man, I was cringing through that whole interrogation. A testament to how much Allison cares about Elena that she was willing to sit through it at all

Reader 3 

Oh yes! There are things that we can endure for love that we would not choose to endure for any other reason; and grilling by potential mother-in-law has to be right up there (especially with how the anticipation was set up for this interrogation)

Cara Malone 

What did you guys think about Elena’s decision to go on the third blind date, with the woman?

Should she have gone like she did or make an excuse to stay with concussed Allison?

Reader 2 

I think she should have stayed, but it worked better to have her leave.

I should clarify, to me as a person she should have stayed. As a writer, it made sense to have her leave.

Reader 4

Allison told her to go; to me the decision to go was because Elena had to acknowledge that Allison is her own person, and should know her own body. She realizes she cares, step 1. Going to the date with the woman showed her that it could be more than caring. So the date gave her character emotional growth and self-awareness. Necessary if you are taking a presumably heterosexual character and having them shift their sexuality.

Reader 3

I agree, Reader 2. I could make it a coin-flip decision if it was just Allison’s wellbeing, maybe… but it feels to me like Elena would (in reality) have worried about the potential effects on Lucas, if something were to happen and Allison were not 100%

Reader 2

Yeah, for me as a parent, with a with who has had plenty of head injuries, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable leaving. But, in the specific situation in this book, it still make sense.

Cara Malone

Did you guys have a favorite scene or anything in particular that you loved about the story?

Reader 2 

Every moment of cuteness with Allison, but really, that scene in the shower was the best

Reader 4 

I will defer my answer to my earlier comment about all the little moments. LOL

Reader 1

The scene in the shower

Reader 3 

For me, Lucas stole the show. Especially when he would talk about Allison having a sleepover with either he or his mother

Reader 1 

Yeah, Lucas was the star of the book

When he found Alisson in Elena’s bed

Cara Malone 

I tend to pay attention to prose and word choice a lot and KL had a lot of great lines. I think this was the first time Elena and Allison met, “She watched the girl’s emerald eyes rake the length of her body.”

Reader 3 

I thought of the way so many of us have been living the past few weeks with one sentence in Chapter 8…

[Allison] hated days like this, when she desperately wanted to do something, anything, but everything she actually did just bored her.

I know I had a couple of those days myself this week

Cara Malone 

Yup, that definitely sounds familiar

Do you guys find yourselves reading more or less in quarantine?

Reader 2 

I’m more busy than before

I might find a way to read more now that i have to (and want to).

Reader 1 

A little less reading, but I’m going back on track again

Reader 3 

I’m reading a little less: we bought a game console to help pass the time and… I find my routine just enough “off” with my partner working from home instead of the daily routine of dropping her off at/picking her up from the office

It’s not a whole lot less, but it’s there. (Though I did completely stop listening to audiobooks, because I mostly listen to them in the car.)

Cara Malone 

Yeah it seems like there should be a lot more time in the day now but the quotient of additional stressors has gone up too

I miss my audiobooks so much

Reader 2

Ok, I literally just finished the last chapter (because time management is hard) and I liked how she worked the popcorn and candy in at the end

Cara Malone 

Is my memory correct that Elena holds her ground and doesn’t try it?

Reader 2 

She holds her ground at first, then Allison explains how it represents them

but then she tries it

she says it isn’t awful, but it isn’t heavenly either

Cara Malone 

I figured there was no way she would get through an entire lifetime without trying Allison’s favorite snack – just couldn’t remember if it happened on the page

She’s pretty contrary – probably liked it more than she admitted haha

Cara Malone 

Well, we’re at just about the bottom of the hour… I did ask KL the questions that the group posed and here are her answers.

What inspires your stories?

I am inspired by a great number of things, but for characters and relations, I am often inspired by the people I’ve known or connected without throughout my life. I’ve been inspired by my own life experiences and those of others as well. I do my best to make characters that feel genuinely human in how they experience both joy and suffering because my whole life has been a very human experience in that way, that roller coaster of genuine joy and suffering.

How do you choose character names?

Sometimes, they just pop in my head, but often I do research from the years my characters were born, places they were born, culture, etc. Sometimes, I just pick names I like or have seen somewhere!

How hard your schedule been affected by recent events?

As far as my writing schedule, it hasn’t much been affected outside of the stresses and empathy induced anxiety affecting my motivation to work. I find I have even more time to research and write but less energy to do so. I am doing my best to keep balanced and well though and maintain schedule normalcy. But I also make sure not to let myself overwork so as to keep a healthy mind and balance in that way as well. My meetings schedule has come to a screeching halt due to the crisis, though, and that has been a bit stressful, but we are all doing our best.

What inspired the perfume bottle scene?

Ah, that ridiculous scene! To be honest (and embarrassed), it was inspired by an actual event in my life. It wasn’t quite so traumatic (nothing as hard or edged as a perfume bottle), but it was hilarious. I thought it would make for a great, funny, and endearing scene so I decided to use my experience as inspiration to write something similar but amped up a bit!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a bit of both, though more of a pantser. I tend to have a solid but very general idea of story flow with a more meticulous idea of character structure before I begin. I have big points I want to hit or scenes I want to write to and from, but I try not to overplan or it kills my passion for the work as I love the joy of discovery. It truly depends on the work though. Some stories require a lot more research or, by the nature of their structure, more planning.

Sneak Peek: The Beginning of Everything

Check out the first chapter of my historical romance, The Beginning of Everything, below – available now on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited.

“Elizabeth Anne Reynolds!” Ruthie Ginsberg’s voice rose to an ear-splitting pitch as she threw open the door to her adorable little butter-yellow ranch house and scooped Betty into her arms. “It feels like forever since we last saw you!”

Ruthie had been married for a little more than six months, but it only took her about a month to lose all sense of self. Nowadays, everything was we and us and our. Betty couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen her best friend without her husband, Joseph, and she was starting to wonder whether they’d already scheduled the surgery that would officially join them at the hip.

“I brought a bottle of chardonnay,” Betty said, her heels sinking deep into the thick carpeting as she stepped into the living room. She could hear voices coming from further inside the little house and for a few seconds, she had a strong urge to grab Ruthie by the arm and steal her away. They could go downtown on the L and Betty could have Ruthie all to herself like she used to when they were girls.

That would be nice.

But Ruthie was already pulling her deeper into the house. She relieved Betty of her coat, then took the wine out of her hands and made some impressed sounds as she inspected the label. “This is so grown-up!”

“I know!” Betty beamed. She was twenty years old and she had a good job in the city, but nothing had made her feel quite as grown up as going to a wine bar after her shift and laying down her hard-earned cash for that bottle of good chardonnay. “The man who sold it to me said it’s ‘fruit-forward with a smoky finish’… whatever that means!”

Ruthie giggled and Betty swelled with pride as her best friend linked arms with her and guided her toward the dining room. Betty knew the layout of the little house well – she’d been at the housewarming party right after Ruthie and Joseph got back from their honeymoon to Niagara Falls, and she came over once a month ever since to have Ruthie trim her split ends on a stool in the kitchen. 

Ruthie was just a homemaker trimming hair for a little mad money. She didn’t have a cape like they had at the salons, and Betty always left the house feeling itchy with dozens of little hairs under her collar, but it was always worth the discomfort to enjoy the feeling of Ruthie’s delicate fingers against her head as she washed Betty’s hair in the sink. Ruthie always took a long time, getting distracted and chatting and letting the warm water cascade over Betty’s forehead, and Betty would look up at Ruthie’s crisp white ceiling and occasionally steal glimpses at her pretty blue eyes. Sometimes Betty would look at the underside of Ruthie’s bust shimmying as she worked shampoo into Betty’s dark locks. It wasn’t like Betty could help it – Ruthie never was very aware of her body while she was distracted with Betty’s hair, and sometimes her stomach would press up against Betty’s arm while she worked, her chest just inches from Betty’s face.

It always made her cheeks flush a violent red, and then she’d have to lie and tell Ruthie the water was too warm and it was making her feverish.

Betty always seemed to be just a little bit too warm in Ruthie’s presence, and the Peter Pan collar at her neck felt a little tight as they went into the dining room now. Tonight kicked off the first of a series of dinner parties that Ruthie had decided to throw in order to comingle her old high school friends with Joseph’s new friends from the Chicago Tribune, where he worked as a salesman. 

“Look who I found!” Ruthie said, her voice climbing into a shrill register again as she drew everyone’s attention. “And she brought wine!”

Every face turned to Betty and Ruthie standing in the arched doorway, and Betty felt like she was on display – especially once she’d done a scan of the room and realized that there was only one other single person here tonight, a stranger who was looking somewhat slack-jawed at her.

“Sorry,” Ruthie said, leaning close and whispering into Betty’s ear. “But we can’t very well have a dinner party with an uneven number of guests – it would throw the whole flow of the conversation off.”

Betty was just about to point out the fact that she still lived with her parents and the three of them had had quite a few successful dinner conversations after her brother moved out, odd-numbered though they were. But Ruthie didn’t give her the chance. She set the wine bottle down on the table and grabbed Betty by the hand, dragging her over to the man who would be her companion for the evening.

“This is Ed,” she said. “He works with Joseph at the Tribune – he’s a typesetter. Isn’t that neat?”

“It’s nice to meet you,” Betty said, holding out her hand. When Ed took it, she noticed his fingers were permanently stained with dark newspaper ink, and she was relieved when none of it rubbed off on her hands. 

“This is the friend we were telling you about,” Ruthie told Ed. “Betty works downtown, too.”

“Oh?” Ed said, and the slight derision that appeared on his face didn’t escape Betty, even though it was only there for a second. One of those ‘a woman’s place is in the home’ types, Betty thought as she appraised him and Ed asked, “What kind of work do you do?”

“I’m a secretary,” Betty said. She could talk at length about how she’d gone to secretarial school after high school because it offered her an alternative to getting hitched like the rest of her friends – at a price much more affordable than college. She could tell him that, in the six months since she started working for the Lumbermens insurance company, she’d already been promoted from the steno pool and gotten assigned as a personal secretary in the claims processing department. But Ed didn’t really want to know all that – he was just being polite. And this was going to be a long dinner party.

“Interesting,” he said. 

“It is interesting,” Betty told him, and when Ruthie caught the edge in her voice, she stepped in. She and Betty may have gone down very different paths after high school, but they’d known each other long enough to read one another’s moods from ten yards away.

“And, of course, you know Nancy and Charlie,” she said, pulling Betty’s attention away from Ed. 

Betty, Ruthie and Nancy had all been cheerleaders together in high school – go Wildkits – and Charlie was the star quarterback. He and Nancy had gotten married right after graduation and she already had a bun in the oven – they were the epitome of an All-American family unit, and Nancy was positively glowing with happiness as she daintily sipped apple juice from a wine glass. 

“You look great, Nancy,” Betty said, going over to hug her. She’d never been as close with Nancy as she was with Ruthie, but the three of them had had their fair share of sleepovers when they were younger. “How far along are you, three or four months?”

“Five!” Nancy said, beaming at Charlie, who took his cue to wrap his arm proudly around her shoulder. 

“Wow, you wasted no time at all,” Betty said, feeling a little bit dizzy before the chardonnay had even been opened. Motherhood – now there was another thing that, like marriage, she was in no hurry to get to. Unlike every single one of her high school friends, it seemed.

“I can’t wait to meet this little one,” Nancy said, her hand on her stomach. She looked at Betty – a little sadly, it seemed – and asked, “What about you? Are you looking forward to finding Mr. Right?”

Nancy’s eyes flitted subconsciously over to Ed, who was now helping himself to a bottle of gin on the sideboard. He poured himself a glass and grimaced as he took the first sip. He wasn’t ugly or anything – a little bit paunchy around the middle, maybe – but Nancy and Ruthie had both given Betty looks that made her think they expected her to make a love connection tonight.

When was she supposed to fall in love with this man she’d never met before? In between the salad course and the entrée? Would he help her put on her coat at the end of the night and look into her eyes, and suddenly she’d be ready to get hitched? Was that how it worked for other girls?

Maybe that wasn’t exactly what Ruthie had in mind when she invited Ed to even out the conversation, but it sure felt like lately, all of Betty’s friends were collectively holding their breaths and waiting for her to find the one. And that was to say nothing of her mother, who got more desperate by the day.

It was like there was a clock counting down right above Betty’s head, and she was the only one who couldn’t see it. Six months, twelve days and twenty-one hours until Betty Reynolds officially becomes a spinster. Except even if she could see the clock, she would have had a hard time figuring out what everyone else was so concerned about. She had a good job. She was saving up to rent her own apartment. And she’d never even been in love – it didn’t look like Ed No-Last-Name, the typesetter with the inky fingers would be the one to break that pattern.

“Maybe someday,” Betty told Nancy.

Nancy looked a little uncomfortable for her, then Joseph pulled the cork out of the chardonnay just then and poured a glass for Betty and Ruthie. Ed poured a few more glasses from the minibar for the other men, and while they all just stood there and sipped for a minute, Betty took a few seconds to swirl the light golden liquid in her glass. She smelled it before she took a small taste, just as she’d watched the man at the wine bar do it.

It was a ten-dollar bottle and she’d expected it to be a revelation, but it tasted just like all the other white wine she’d ever had – like grapes that had gone slightly fermented. Oh well.

“I think the roast should be done now,” Ruthie said after a minute. “Joseph, will you help me take it out of the oven?”

They disappeared through a swinging door on one wall and then a good deal more giggling emanated from the kitchen than was strictly necessary for a roast-extraction. Then, about ten minutes later, they all sat down to eat. Betty tried to feign surprise when Ruthie herded her toward the empty seat beside Ed, and she spent the whole meal trying to maintain a polite detachment from him lest he get the wrong idea and start thinking that this matchmaking nonsense was actually going to work out in his favor.

Ed was probably a perfectly nice guy. One of Ruthie’s other nearly-spinster friends might be happy to snatch him up. But Betty was waiting for one of those see each other from across the room, heart stops in your chest, can barely breathe, love at first sight moments, and what had happened when she met Ed was about as far from that as she could get without flatlining in a bad way. 

Betty’s mom called that love at first sight idea silly romantic drivel – she blamed it on Betty’s brother, Robert, and said he was infecting the whole family with his crazy Hollywood notions. But Betty couldn’t imagine spending the next sixty years of her life with someone who made her feel less alive than she did when she was getting her hair washed. 

“So, Betty, tell us about working in downtown Chicago,” Nancy said after a little while. “It must be stressful.”

“Sometimes,” Betty said. “On my first day working for Mr. Peters, I was so nervous I knocked a cup of coffee over on his desk and I had to spend the whole afternoon retyping a stack of insurance claims that got ruined. I figured he’d send me right back to the steno pool, but he was pretty understanding about it.”

Ruthie raised an eyebrow, as well as her wine glass. “Is he single?”

Betty let out a small sigh, trying not to let it show on her face. Why did everything always have to come back around to that? What would happen if she did get married – what would they have to talk about then? She glanced at Nancy sipping her apple juice. Babies – that’s what.

“No,” Betty said. “He’s married, and at least sixty.”

“Oh,” Ruthie said, disappointed that there wasn’t more of a story there. She switched gears quickly, though. “Ed, did you know that Betty-”

“Okay, that’s enough girl talk for one night,” Joseph said, cutting off his wife mid-sentence. It was rude – definitely not something the etiquette maven Emily Post would have approved of at her dinner table – but Betty could have gotten up and hugged Joseph right then and there for the interruption. Oblivious, he asked, “Charlie, how’s it going working for your old man?”

“Not bad, but I can’t wait to save up the money to open a shop of my own,” he said. Charlie’s dad ran a mechanic shop here in Evanston and Betty’s father had been taking the family cars to the Thompsons for years. They were honest workers who didn’t overcharge and always did the work right, but the subject of carburetors and oil changes bored Betty to tears almost as much as talking about her marriage prospects.

Fortunately, Ruthie proved to be a stern hostess. She let the conversation go on for a couple minutes while she passed around second helpings of juicy pot roast and the buttery new potatoes she’d baked to go with it, then she put her hand delicately on her husband’s arm and said, “Yawn, sweetie. No offense, Charlie, but half the people at this table think you two must be speaking a foreign language right now.”

“What’s so unrelatable about serpentine belts?” Charlie asked, looking to his wife for support. 

Nancy gave him a sympathetic smile – the exact same one she’d given Betty when she asked her when, oh when, she was planning to fall into line with the rest of the girls from their graduating class and get married. It shut Charlie up, though, and then Ruthie turned her attention back to Betty.

“Tell us what Robert’s up to in California,” she said, her eyes glittering with anticipation. For Ed’s sake, she explained, “Betty’s older brother moved to Hollywood last year to be an actor.”

“Oh, wow,” Ed said, showing a little more interest in that news than he’d shown in Betty’s career. “Has he been in anything I would have seen?”

“Not yet,” Betty said. “He’s still trying to get his big break. But he goes to loads of auditions and he’s gotten called back a couple of times. I talked to him last week and he said he had a meeting with an agent coming up, so that could be really good for him if it works out.”

“That’s so exciting!” Nancy said. “What kind of films does he want to make?”

Betty laughed. “Any kind he can book, I think. But he pictures himself as a leading man – a Marlon Brando or a James Dean type.”

“Robert? James Dean?” Charlie asked with a snort, and Nancy smacked his chest with the back of her hand.

“Be nice,” she said.

“I’m sorry,” Charlie said. “But I went to school with the guy and he’s more of a Desi Arnaz. Don’t you all think?”

He looked around the table for confirmation and Joseph nodded, a little reluctantly. They weren’t wrong – Robert had acted in all the high school plays and he’d distinguished himself as a fantastic comedic actor, but he was determined to leave all that behind when he went to Hollywood because it was the leading men who became household names, not the funny guys.

“My mother thinks all of it is an impossible pipe dream,” Betty said. “She and Dad wanted him to apply for a college scholarship instead, but Robert told them college would still be here if Hollywood doesn’t work out.” She gave a little chuckle, thinking back to the peculiar shade of purple that her mom had turned the last time Robert called home. “I’m not sure my mom will still be here, though, at this rate. She lays an egg every time he calls from LA.”

“I don’t blame her,” Nancy said, her hand on her stomach again. She was still four months away from having that baby but it seemed like she had started thinking like a mom at the moment of conception. “I think it’s neat that he’s following his dreams, but I could never do that. I don’t think I’d be too comfortable with it if one of ours decided to do it, either.”

She looked at Charlie, her brow knit with concern. She hadn’t even had this one yet and already, she was thinking multiple kids into the future. 

“Well, I think Robert’s a badass,” Betty said, drawing a couple of surprised looks on account of her language. “He’s going his own way and damn the consequences. I think that’s brave.”

Ruthie smiled at Betty, but Joseph muttered into his glass of gin, “Or foolhardy.”

With both Ruthie and Betty working on it, the chardonnay bottle was empty long before the party ended and the conversation turned to the movies, books and television that everyone had seen lately. They talked for a good half an hour about The Andy Griffith Show alone, and by the end of the night, Betty had completely forgotten that she was supposed to be there ‘with’ Ed – until he picked up her coat for her and offered to drive her home.

“Joseph is calling a taxi for me,” she said as she allowed Ed to help her into her coat.

“It’s no trouble,” he said, touching his fingers to the tip of his nose in a display of sobriety and adding, “I’m completely sober and a real good driver.”

“No, thank you,” Betty said. “I always take a taxi when I leave here.”

Ed looked a little put out at not being allowed to drive her, and they had to go back and forth with offers and refusals a couple more times for etiquette’s sake, but in the end, Betty won with only a small compromise. Ed would stand on the sidewalk with her until the taxi arrived, then slip the driver five dollars to cover her fare.

“It’s only a ten-minute ride,” Betty objected. “I have the money.”

“I’m sure you do, working girl,” Ed said, then handed the money through the passenger window anyway. 

Betty had to struggle not to roll her eyes as she plastered on a smile and said, “Thank you.”

Thank you, but this doesn’t mean I owe you anything, she thought as she climbed into the back of the yellow Checker Taxi. Ed waved as the car pulled away from the curb, and behind him, Betty saw Ruthie stepping onto the front stoop to wave goodbye. 

Joseph stepped out beside her and put his arm around Ruthie to shield her from the cold, and she nestled against him with a smile. Everyone else seemed to know exactly what they wanted and most of the time, it just so happened to be what was expected of them. There was something missing in Betty’s life and she wasn’t quite sure what it was, but she was sure that it wasn’t a husband.

Keep reading now…

Lesfic Book Club: Rising From Ash

For our March meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Rising From Ash 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.

Jax  3:20 PM

While people are waiting, I put information up on Pinterest

Reader 1  3:45 PM

Love the Pinterest inspiration – always cool to see the visuals inside an author’s head

Jax  3:47 PM

Yeah Lee Winter has some cool pinterest boards for her books

Reader 2  4:02 PM

We’re the MC’s always gonna be Phoenix and Ash?

Reader 3  4:02 PM

There are books that go from country, beach, cruise, cities. Why the south pole?

Jax  4:02 PM

and why don’t I start with the characters and setting since it all is the same story?

Way back in… late 2018 I think, we were all talking here about settings. Don’t remember why. I mentioned wanting to do something at the South Pole. My reason was marketing. There aren’t books set there and since I’ve been there, it was something I could write intelligently about. And then @Reader 1 said she’d want to read that so I had to do it.

Reader 4  4:05 PM

Why were you there @Jax ? Leisure, work, or something else?

Jax  4:05 PM

Finding the characters took a lot longer. I decided I needed a character that reminded me of my wife. Someone with a rough past but was freaking brilliant. I spent a lot of time with characters who weren’t like my wife so I thought it’d be a nice switch. Plus, if she reads it, she’ll get to hear me say all the things Ash says to Phoenix and maybe listen. Then again, i’ve said them to her plenty and she still doesn’t always believe me. So…

And then Ash came about because I was realizing my own asexuality and thought, what better pairing than to explore something we’ve had to navigate with zero knowledge for (now) 20 years.

Anywhere but the South Pole, they wouldn’t be forced together.

Their names was intuition. Phoenix was a cool name, and as I brainstormed common names with Lou Ashley popped out as a good one. It took a solid minute to realize the connection.

Reader 4  4:07 PM

Phoenix is the coolest name ever!

Reader 2  4:08 PM


Jax  4:08 PM

We laughed for a while about it. I love that stuff.

@Reader 4 I was at the pole for the same reason as Ash the year prior and Emily. Two weeks of research experience with the IceCube project. I was the first undergraduate to go in 2002.

It kicked off a whole program of undergrads going, which I didn’t know until a few years ago. Now 1 or 2 go each summer (our winter break).

Reader 1  4:09 PM

Were you nervous about the trip when you went?

Jax  4:10 PM

It was very handy to use my old connections to talk to one of the who was wintering over as I wrote. (edited)

@Reader 1 I wasn’t very nervous. Granted it was almost 18 years ago, but I love traveling. Getting to go while someone else paid for it was the best.

Reader 1  4:11 PM

I always heard the boat portions could be somewhat harrowing

Reader 5  4:10 PM

The IceCube project is really interesting!

Jax  4:11 PM

No boats for us. Only planes. C-130, C-141.

@Reader 5 IceCube is one of the few projects that came in on time, under budget, and produces more data than they anticipated. It’s a great project.

Reader 5  4:13 PM

That same year I got to manage operations of the Hobby Eberly telescope in Texas…another very cost effective project…at the time it was the worlds third largest array optical instrument. So I can relate a bit to your excitement.

Reader 2  4:13 PM

@Jax do you think that the experience of being somewhere very unique has changed you and your outlook on life, the universe etc.

Reader 3  4:13 PM

How did you come with Ash writing fanfiction?

Jax  4:13 PM

@Reader 2 I’ve always had a unique view of the world. What is has done is make me very impatient with conspiracy theories. There’s no hole in Antarctica. Yes it exists. No wall either. lol

@Reader 3 I don’t remember exactly why Ash wrote fanfic. Those developments blurred together. But I wanted them to draw a comic and she needed a hobby. That was the simplest solution.

It gave me an excuse for them to spend more time together because they couldn’t be characters that just fell together in five minutes.

Reader 1  4:17 PM

I think you did a great job of letting them clash and work through their problems without a lot of unnecessary angst

What was the hardest thing about this book for you?

Jax  4:18 PM

The hard part was explaining why they had to make up quickly. That took a few editing passes. To me it was obvious, knowing how they’d approach choosing candidates for a Mars trip, but not everyone knows.

Oh, the hardest was the argument in McMurdo. By far. That was at least three separate rewrites.

Reader 6  4:18 PM

Why do you find it hard to write angst? I do too but I like reading books with low angst the best

Jax  4:18 PM

Because I love my characters and want them to be happy!

Reader 5  4:18 PM

Can you tell us a bit about how you got the setting at the current facility so accurate?  I felt I was watching a movie as I read and when I looked at photos on line afterward the facility was exactly as I saw it in my imagination.

Jax  4:19 PM

Youtube @Reader 5. Youtube is a godsend.

For instance, I had no idea that observation tube existed, but it was a random suggestion as I researched.

Reader 6  4:20 PM

I like writing arguments but hate splitting MC’s up. If Ash goes to Mars will that split them up?

Jax  4:20 PM

So, that’s the big question. What happens with Ash’s dream?

I do have a solution for that now, but I will say, there are many ways to fulfill a dream.

Reader 1  4:21 PM

That’s a good question for a romance tho – sometimes with other books it feels like the solutions have been reverse-engineered to fit the characters together, but Mars is a big problem to work thru

Jax  4:22 PM

It is, especially while Phoenix keeps supporting her dream.

It becomes the crux of the next book.

Reader 2  4:22 PM

What I really liked was how Ash opened up Phoenix’s feelings and emotions, and Phoenix was so beautifully respectful of Ash’s asexuality.

Jax  4:23 PM

Me too.

A lot of the conversations with Phoenix working through her past have happened between my wife and I in some form.

Listening to the audio this week actually made me emotional remembering all that. And seeing how much affects her now. Then I think about all the other people I know who are truly phenomenal people and have horrible families who make them think they suck.

I’m always torn when someone says they relate to Phoenix. I’m glad, and I hope it helps them see their awesomeness, but I’m also sad because in an ideal world they wouldn’t relate to her.

Reader 6  4:26 PM

Out of all your books then who would you like to marry, kill, or like to be stuck in a lift with?

Jax  4:27 PM

lol Oh man… Well, I killed the one person I’d definitely kill in Marine discovery. I try not to write awful characters. Though Phoenix’s dad is definitely on the kill list. The rest are all ones I’d love to hang out with. And marry is a dangerous question. I mean, I kinda did marry Phoenix. 😉 But… Sharon is pretty damn awesome.

Though I’d have to fight @Reader 3 for Sharon.

Reader 7  4:28 PM

Yeah, she is

Reader 6  4:28 PM

Good answer, Sharon is my lift person for sure

Reader 3  4:28 PM

I’ll marry Sharon!!

Reader 2  4:29 PM

When you wrote this book did you know there was more than one book for this couple?

Jax  4:29 PM

Yes, this was planned as a series. For once, I planned a head a little.

Reader 2  4:30 PM

Also, Cam is adorable. You all can have Sharon!

Jax  4:31 PM

Since Cam is based a lot on me (but better), I’d never choose Cam because that’s weird.

But you can have her.

Reader 5  4:31 PM

Since you brought up Marine’s Heart…will we get a book about Sarah? She’s pretty awesome.

Jax  4:31 PM

No, no books about Sarah because she is based very much on my real life best friend and that’s too weird.

But she’ll appear in Marine’s Heart book 5 and I might give her an off the page hookup or something.

She needs to get heart eyes over someone so Cam can give her a massive amount of crap.

To go back to the RFA series quick, I don’t know if it will be three books total or more. I think I can wrap up Phoenix and Ash with the next book. But I want to give Cole their own book and let Pash pop in.

Reader 2  4:33 PM

Is there another genre you want to try writing, say historical or mystery?

Reader 8  4:33 PM

Does writing help you heal ‘wounds’, process things that happened..?

Jax  4:34 PM

@Reader 2 the research for Arine Awakening was annoying enough. I don’t think I’d enjoy historical. I’d like to dive into more of the spiritual stuff, so urban fantasy. But that’s still a ways off. I have 3 or 4 books to write in my queue already, without brainstorming much.

And I’d suck at mystery.

@Reader 8 I process a ridiculous amount through my books. Some of my personal blogging gets into that, but I also try to be careful not to make it too much about my own stuff. It does parallel a lot though.

Reader 3  4:35 PM

Maybe something related to soccer

Reader 2  4:35 PM

Know your strengths right?

Jax  4:36 PM

For example, the Marine’s Heart series (during the military years) allowed me to imagine a version of me that didn’t get kicked out before I really got to do much.

@Reader 3 I’d love to write some kids’ books involving soccer.

@READER 8 Rae and I were brainstorming books about women’s tackle football. So that might happen someday. I hope it does at least.

READER 8  4:37 PM

How has support for this book different from the books of A Marine’s Heart? Do you have the same fans or has this brought more?

God knows it’s one of my favorites

I’m still down for the idea

Reader 1  4:38 PM

Lesfic needs some sports romance – we don’t have much of it

Jax  4:38 PM

@READER 8 it’s been different. Sales were slower. I reached out to Jae, being the only lesfic author I know who wrote about ace characters and asked for advice. She helped me focus on more promo, but also joint things with her that helped immensely. We did an ace character chat on her page. A podcast with the lesbian talk show.

In the end, this book may still have not sold quite as much, but I have amazing reviews and people are very enthusiastic about it.

Reader 6  4:39 PM

Are you going to write a book that’s completely standalone or are you always intending to write series?

Jax  4:39 PM

@Reader 6 I hope to finally get my standalone books going. One might end up being written as a screenplay instead since it’s so audio/visual focused.

The problem is, these characters need to tell their stories. So it will be another year at least.

READER 8  4:41 PM

How is the quarantine helping with your writing? Or is it?

Reader 6  4:41 PM

I know you’ve recently collaborated on a book (:wink:) would you ever do that again or has this experience put you off 

Reader 1  4:41 PM

Do you pretty much have the whole book already played out in your head before you start writing, or when you say they need to tell their stories, do you mean figuring out the characters as people before you write?

Jax  4:41 PM

@READER 8 it helps because I’m not ubering, so there’s more time. It hurts because kiddo needs attention. So… it’s a mix. But I’m excited to do edits soon because I can only do that at the computer.

@Reader 1 hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

I’m such a pantser. For the same reason I can’t play chess. Every interaction affects the next. I can’t write out of order, unless it’s to figure out the feel of something.

The best I have are big moments to hit. I do know where they need to end up, and try to figure out their big moment, but a lot of time that can’t be determined until I’m in the story.

@Reader 6 co-writing is a unique experience. And it helped a lot with these last AMH books. It’s a challenge, but also fun.

I might change my answer when the edits come back.

Oh, you guys want to know something funny?

Reader 8  4:45 PM


Jax  4:45 PM

Phoenix worked at Hooters because I was picking up an Uber Eats order at the one local to me. There was a woman in the back cooking. It made me wonder, not that I’d ever have the courage to ask her anything. But that was where that came from.

And no, she did not look like a Hooters Girl. She looked a bit like I’d expect from Phoenix.

READER 8  4:46 PM

Do you have any idea where uh… I can’t remember her name. The other woman. In Antarctica. Where she went and what her story is?

Reader 1  4:46 PM

Ooh, Skye? I liked her – she needs a book

Jax  4:47 PM

Skye? My troublemaker? Wherever the wind takes her. Lol

She was fun.

READER 8  4:47 PM

I’d be interested to see if she ever meets someone just as wild as she is

Jax  4:47 PM

Lots of free spirits at the Pole on the non-science side.

Oh that makes my head hurt. Someday I might have the ability to do that.

Reader 6  4:47 PM

Book number 75 maybe??

Jax  4:48 PM

Each book stretches my muscles to create characters. But that’s a huge stretch.

Reader 5  4:48 PM

So…why Corn Bake?  That was my favorite scene by the way…

Jax  4:48 PM

Oh, because it’s a weird midwestern thing and super yummy.

READER 8  4:48 PM

I want the gravy

Jax  4:48 PM

All the food was based on things my wife makes. Those chicken nuggets are my birthday meal and heavenly.

My wife makes killer gravy. And all of Thanksgiving. That cole slaw is to die for as well.

Oh, in 2022, whoever comes to Denver for GCLS can come to our house and we’ll throw a feast.

The seasoning mix is called Andy’s red breading, or might now only be called Andy’s Cajun. You can buy it

READER 8  4:50 PM

I will 100% be there

Jax  4:50 PM

But Phoenix had to make it, and that’s something my wife does too
Also, the story of her grandma going to alaska… that happened in real life.

Reader 2  4:50 PM

Which writers do you admire?

Jax  4:52 PM

@Reader 2 so many writers. My favorites list on goodreads gives you an idea. (I’ll link it a bit later). But my ultimate, best writers that make me wonder if I’ll ever be good enough include: Lee Winter, EJ Noyes, Jae, Melissa Brayden, Radclyffe for her epic series, Robin Alexander for her humor and families…


There’s a reason why I chose the absolute top of my list. Otherwise the list never ends!

Also, I’m behind on reading so…

Reader 1  4:53 PM

I can’t argue with that list – they’re all fantastic

Reader 6  4:54 PM

All favourites of mine too tbh amongst so many others

Jax  4:55 PM

My goodreads shows how much I love books. I’m very generous with the 5 stars. lol

So what else do you want to know?

Otherwise I have a question for you all

Reader 9  4:56 PM

I know I asked when writing it haha but why Buffy fanfic??

READER 8  4:56 PM

What is your process? Do you require silence, music, chaos, calm? Cats?

Jax  4:56 PM

Because I know the show well enough. And it’s fun.

I’m a silence person. I can’t think with distractions. the only exception is focus@will music

example. I just had to say, Melody, I love you, but please go.

if I use music it’s instrumental only. Words are very distracting.

Music is often distracting.

So I don’t write in coffee shops or anything.

Reader 7  4:58 PM

Cats are distracting

Jax  4:58 PM

They definitely can be. As long as they settle in nearby, I’m good with them.

Reader 9  4:58 PM

Hers like to take over the writing :joy:

Jax  4:59 PM

My cat is a bit of an ass. But he’s also sweet.

Reader 7  4:59 PM

Mine want to sit on my writing while i’m writing and purr

Reader 10  4:59 PM

If you were to have a pet from a fantasy world (or sci-fi I guess) then what kind of pet would you want?

Jax  4:59 PM

Hmm… Can I have baby yoda? No… that’s a sentient creature. Darn.

READER 8  4:59 PM

Mini dragon

Jax  5:00 PM

A tiny dragon would be awesome.

But I’d want it to still be free, just hang out with me when it wants.

READER 8  5:00 PM

Yes. All the more special in the choosing

Jax  5:00 PM

I love all animals. Even creepy ones. I just keep my distance.

Reader 1  5:00 PM

Same, except for most snakes and all spiders

Gotta draw a line somewhere

Reader 8  5:01 PM

There is something with tiny dragons and lesbians for sure

Jax  5:02 PM

Okay, question for you all. I’m starting the sequel as soon as AMH book 4 is done. So, now’s the time to make requests of what you want to see from Phoenix and Ash. Not saying it will go into the book, but I’ll at least consider it.

Right now it’s February, they’ll be there until October. Then they go home.

READER 8  5:02 PM

I want to see a meeting between ash and the aunt

Jax  5:03 PM

that’s definitely happening

Reader 7  5:03 PM

I can’t think on the fly like that!

Reader 9  5:03 PM

Yes! That will be interesting!

READER 8  5:03 PM

Maybe have ash cook something for Pheonix

Jax  5:03 PM

You can always tell me later too, if something comes to mind.

Reader 1  5:03 PM

Sexy rock climbing sequence while they’re still there, or vacation when they get home? 🙂

Jax  5:03 PM

Oh, cooking lessons could be interesting.

Reader 3  5:03 PM

How they handle a misunderstanding in the real world

Reader 4  5:03 PM

Yes, more sexy rock climbing sequences!!

Jax  5:03 PM

Oh, there will be lots of that @Reader 3

Reader 6  5:03 PM

I want to see Ash take on Phoenix’s Dad and totally humiliate him

Jax  5:04 PM

There’s a chance of something like that @Reader 6. Not sure exactly how yet, but it has to happen.

READER 8  5:05 PM

Or maybe see Pheonix finally standing up to him with finality

Jax  5:05 PM

At some point Phoenix will run. Not exactly sure how far yet, but that needs to happen in some way. She’ll get a good ass kicking from her aunt though.

Reader 5  5:05 PM

I’d like to see Phoenix become a successful chef…get rich and take over that Hooters franchise and fire that worthless son of the owner…

READER 8  5:05 PM

That’s real, though. It’s understandable.

Jax  5:05 PM

They won’t break up, though.

Hehehe, that’s a nice one @Reader 5

READER 8  5:05 PM

Oh! Yes! I want to see the son get what’s coming to him

Reader 6  5:05 PM

Don’t have her cheating tho please. I hate books where they love each other totally then can go away and shag others

Jax  5:06 PM

She won’t cheat, just because that’s a surefire way to kill a book. There are plenty of ways to show this tension without breaking romance rules.

READER 8  5:06 PM


And the friend from Hooters. I’d like to see her get a happy ending, even off screen

Jax  5:07 PM

Yeah, she’ll show back up at least for a bit while they’re in Denver. I’ll see if I can’t get her a happy ending.

What about Phoenix and Ash going to C2E2 convention and meeting Cole?

READER 8  5:07 PM

Idk what that is but I was thinking that too

Jax  5:08 PM

it’s the chicago convention

READER 8  5:08 PM

Have a “she’s my best friend” conversation

Reader 3  5:08 PM

But not during corona lol

Jax  5:08 PM


oh man…

I don’t think I want to work covid into the book. Would be interesting though

READER 8  5:08 PM

Don’t you DARE lmao

Jax  5:09 PM

They’re in Antarctica while all this explodes.

Reader 1  5:09 PM

lol I keep writing scenes thinking “they shouldn’t do that – social distancing! Oh wait, this is fiction…”

Jax  5:09 PM

Do you guys want to see much more from their time on the ice? I feel like winter will get pretty repetitive so I’m not sure how much I’ll show

Probably pick it up with them packing to leave.

 (Brainstorming is my favorite part of writing sometimes)

Reader 6  5:10 PM

Maybe have a kids convo. Everyone would expect Phoenix to be against it but you could have Ash against having them instead. Don’t need to get the turkey baster out just yet tho that can be in a final epilogue :joy:

Reader 1  5:10 PM

I think that would work – unless there’s anything really cool in Antarctica that you haven’t had room for yet

Reader 5  5:10 PM

I wondered about what precautions they are taking for the winter over crew there…isn’t this about the time they fly people out and resupply for the long winter?

READER 8  5:10 PM

I’m interested to see how they deal with the “where do we go from here” conversation. Obviously, ash has more of a concrete answer because of her job. Does Phoenix follow or does ash move? Or how does that work?

Jax  5:11 PM

I think it will be more fun for them to share their memories with Diane in person.

@Reader 5 the station closes by mid February. typically. then nothing until usually October.

@READER 8 the current plan is for them to spend time in New Zealand and then Denver, and then Phoenix moves to Madison while Ash finishes up.

Beyond that is a mystery to me.

And ultimately they have to reconcile Ash’s dream with their relationship. There’s no way in hell Phoenix is getting on a spaceship for 4-6 months to go to Mars.

READER 8  5:14 PM

But I would think that Ash would resent to Phoenix for making her give up her dream

Jax  5:14 PM

In the middle of all that is normal life stress. Money. Family. Coping mechanisms changing. It’s going to get bumpy.

Ah, see that’s why I’m writing the story and not you, @READER 8 🙂

There’s a solution that works and I can tell you in DM if you want.

READER 8  5:14 PM

Yes please lol

Reader 1  5:15 PM

You want the spoilers? Ack!

Reader 3  5:15 PM

I don t think Phoenix would make Ash give up on her dream, I think she’ll support her no matter what

READER 8  5:15 PM

I want the spoilers lol

Jax  5:16 PM

Well, how it all comes about is a mystery to me as well

Reader 6  5:16 PM

Everyone’s going to boo me but the more I hear the more I don’t know if I can bear to read it

Jax  5:17 PM

In 6-8 months I should have a draft ready for beta readers.

READER 8  5:17 PM

I volunteer as tribute

Jax  5:17 PM

I promise, it will be ok @Reader 6.

Like I said, they won’t break up. They won’t separate even. They’ll work through it like they always have, just with new screw ups.

For the first time, Ash will truly be stressed as she defends her dissertation. While Phoenix is stressed with work and family. One of them will have to be the grownup.

My editor will definitely have their work cut out for them though.

Making sure the bumps in the road make sense, and are the right intensity… should be fun.

As for kids… I genuinely have no idea what will happen on that front.

I probably won’t think about it much until Cole’s book.

READER 8  5:21 PM

When cole gets their own book, you could make it a small scene in there. That way you don’t take away from Cole’s story. Like radclyffe did in uh… night call. With Quinn and honor.

Jax  5:21 PM

Yeah, they’ll all remain friends, so they’ll be able to pop in and offer an update.

Who knows, maybe Cole will be one of those people who always wanted kids, so is a natural person for Ash to talk to.

It seems to fit Cole’s personality.

Reader 7  5:23 PM

Does Cole have a partner?

Jax  5:23 PM

Not yet.

That would be their story though. So first, I need to figure out who the heck would be the right partner for Cole. But Cole’s story isn’t going to be written (unless they start getting really loud in my head) until after AMH book 5 which will close out that series (I hope)

I learn in about two weeks if I got into the screenwriting program. If I did, that will shift my writing schedule as well, since I’ll have a year to write a screenplay.

Reader 7  5:25 PM


Reader 1  5:25 PM

Woo hoo, fingers crossed for you!

Reader 5  5:26 PM

Yes, best of luck with that.  I’d definitely go see a film you created.

Jax  5:26 PM

I’ve never written a screenplay. lol But, I have two ideas that would be fun to work on. One is a romcom based in Colorado where a woman’s crush at REI teaches her to be comfortable in the outdoors. The other is a romance between a singer and her formerly straight dancer.

Reader 6  5:26 PM

Any film by you will be awesome

Jax  5:26 PM

The second may basically be Halsey/Jade fanfic…

The other is just an idea that hit me one day. Either way, I’ll keep applying to the program until I get in.

Any other questions? About anything?

Reader 5  5:28 PM

Ok, when you were on IceCube, what was your major?

Jax  5:29 PM


Reader 5  5:29 PM

Nice, I started in Physics but the Air Force turned me into an engineer…still love Physics though.

Reader 1  5:30 PM

More power to both of you – I am not a hard science kinda person 🙂

Jax  5:31 PM

I love it, but didn’t do as well as I should due to undiagnosed ADHD. I wish I’d known and had meds then. But, life works as it should.

Reader 7  5:31 PM

There were four people in my HS physics class. I was the dumb one.

Jax  5:32 PM

Everyone has different skills, abilities, and interests.

I’m trying to think of any other random tidbits… I’ll probably come up with some later. I’m glad you enjoyed the book. It was the scariest to publish, by far.

But it was worth it.

Reader 7  5:33 PM

Yeah. I did fine, i just wasn’t used to not being at the top of the class. So it kinda ruined it for me.

But you’re brilliant

Reader 1  5:33 PM

It was fantastic, Jax – loved the unconventional setting and Phoenix and Ash are great. I can’t wait to read their next story

Reader 5  5:34 PM

Agree with Reader 7….brilliant!

Reader 10  5:34 PM

I found it a lot easier to read through than all of the books with Cam. They’re good books, but you write Cam’s autistic experience so well that I experience her anxiety as well and it makes reading challenging.

I wouldn’t change it though.

It makes it harder to get through because I have to slow my pace and take more breaks, but I think it would lessen the impact for others.

Jax  5:34 PM

I’ll be asking for beta readers in the future. If you’re patient with the revision process, you can be an alpha reader. If not, just wait until the first draft is done.

Reader 7  5:35 PM

Well, it made me cry and learn and laugh… all very good things in a book.

Reader 1  5:37 PM

Thanks for chatting with us Jax and for sharing pics!

Jax  5:38 PM

I post behind the scenes stuff on my website/blog. If you haven’t subscribed to the new one, you might want to.


Thanks for reading and all the feedback.

Lesfic Book Club: Running the Tides

For our February meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Running the Tides by Amanda Kayhart. 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  4:00 PM

It’s book club time! @Amanda did you find us?

Reader 2  4:00 PM

I’m here….although I haven’t fully finished the book.. I was live yesterday for like 6 hrs on facebook and totally fell asleep reading….but I’m really loving the book! :heart_eyes:

Amanda  4:00 PM

Hey, y’all

Reader 3  4:00 PM

Hey Amanda.

Reader 4  4:00 PM

Oh hey hi I have the first question here’s the first question Amanda why are you so perfect

Amanda  4:01 PM

omg, Reader 4. no lol

Reader 4  4:01 PM

Reader 4 yes

Reader 5  4:01 PM

Hi I’m Reader 5 and so excited to join for the first time.

Reader 2  4:01 PM

Hey Amanda!

Reader 1  4:01 PM

Hi Reader 5, good to have you!

Reader 7  4:01 PM

Hi :wave:

Reader 4  4:01 PM

Hi Reader 5!! You joined just in time

Reader 6  4:01 PM

Hi guys

Reader 2  4:01 PM

Hey Reader 5 welcome to joy of book club

Amanda  4:02 PM

It’s honestly so humbling people actually like my writing? lol

Reader 4  4:02 PM

Your writing is amazing and the book was amazing :triumph:

Reader 2  4:02 PM

what’s not to like? Its amazing! and beautiful

Reader 3  4:02 PM

Can’t believe it’s your first book.

Reader 1  4:02 PM

Yes, it was a great read, Amanda!

Reader 7  4:02 PM

Can I ask please…. Freegans? Like how? Have you personal experience?

Reader 1  4:02 PM

Have you written short stories or anything prior to Running the Tides? If not, what made you decide to write it?

Amanda  4:03 PM

I can. Because I went back through it for this, and I’m like “wow, i can’t believe I wrote that” lol

Reader 6  4:03 PM

The book was warm and funny. I even cried a little

Amanda  4:03 PM

LOL dumpster girl gets a lot of reactions that’s for sure

Reader 5  4:03 PM

I was soooo stunned that it was partially set in Saratoga. My hometown

Amanda  4:04 PM

my wife actually suggested her character for a date after watching some weird show on TLC about cheap people? lol

Reader 4  4:04 PM

Omg :joy: that’s a great origin story

Reader 2  4:04 PM

can I say I loved her until that part haha that’s one way to scare you away finding someone at a bar haha

Reader 5  4:04 PM

And yes Popes pizza is very good!!

Reader 1  4:04 PM

I was waiting for Dumpster Girl to be the love interest, like ooh, how’s Amanda going to spin this? 🙂

Reader 7  4:04 PM

Yes she was so trashy! :joy:

Amanda  4:04 PM

I’m from Burnt Hills, actually, so a little south of Saratoga. I lived there until I was twelve, when I moved to VT with my family

Reader 4  4:05 PM

Omg Reader 1 me too :joy::joy: I was like oh hmmmm very interesting direction here

Amanda  4:05 PM

I’ve had suggestions for a dumpster girl spin off tbh lol

Reader 4  4:05 PM

Dumpster girl is the real main character

Reader 5  4:05 PM

I was the postal window clerk in Burnt Hills!!!

Reader 7  4:05 PM

Dumpster girl meets Stig of the Dump! I can see it now

Reader 3  4:05 PM

The book was so sensual, the way you write about the landscape, the food, the sex…. Lol.

Reader 2  4:05 PM

yes Reader 1 me too…and then I’m like wait its gonna have to do with her grandmother in some way…but totally agreed…I was waiting for her to pop up again (edited)

Reader 1  4:06 PM

Haha cool – maybe you two have met before and didn’t know it!

Amanda  4:07 PM

In an early draft, dumpster girl did come back, but I ended up cutting her scene out

Reader 5  4:07 PM

It made this reading personal. My daughters and I argue over what pizza place is better lol

Reader 8  4:07 PM

I also had geographic connections. I grew up in eastern Ontario, so upstate NY can feel like “next door” (even though I was an adult before I visited the US). And… now I live in SE Virginia, so I knew the rest area after the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and have made a couple of visits to the Outer Banks over the last decade, so I could really picture a lot of your settings in this book!

Reader 5  4:08 PM

I feel the same Reader 8

Amanda  4:08 PM

Ive been to the Outer Banks twice, and especially after writing this, it feels like a second home. I love it there

Reader 5  4:08 PM

You’re an incredible writer. Do you do ARC TEAMS.

Amanda  4:09 PM

The aquarium in the book I based off of the Virginia aquarium in VA Beach

Thank you, Reader 5 :heart_eyes: No ARCs. Just write from the heart, and throw it out there, and hope readers like it? lol probably not the best business model lol

Reader 2  4:10 PM

I believe it works for you!

Reader 1  4:10 PM

‘Write from the heart’ is always a solid start

Reader 4  4:10 PM

You could probably have some good success finding ARC readers here if you decide to change your strategy :eyes:

Reader 7  4:11 PM

Who are you favourite authors and what’s your favourite book?

Reader 2  4:11 PM

books are always better when they are from the heart

Reader 8  4:11 PM

And you definitely did that… there were a couple of times I had to pause for a moment because the emotions were so strong and real

Reader 5  4:11 PM

It definitely does work for you, but I’ll  be watching incase you change your mind.

Reader 4  4:11 PM

Yessss it was really strong and I could tell it felt like a personal story for you

Reader 2  4:12 PM

Where did you get Val and her husband from? they were great!

Amanda  4:12 PM

Well, I only started writing in 2015 after I stumbled upon Eliza Lentzski’s Winter Jacket. I had no idea lesfic was a thing. That sounds so ridiculous now lol But I’ll say Eliza is def one of my favs, but there’s SO MANY good authors/books I can’t limit my answer

Reader 4  4:13 PM

Hahaha I mean I only found out lesfic was a thing in 2018 so that’s a mood, lesbians and getting erased by culture go together like peanut butter and jelly

Reader 4  4:13 PM

Or maple and bacon, in the theme of the book

Amanda  4:13 PM

Giles is based on an actual person I used to work with–he had the handlebar mustache and all. I’m not sure where I came up with Val, tbh. But I wanted a grandmotherly figure for Avery

Reader 2  4:14 PM

and btw who doesn’t love Dirty Dancing?? :joy:

Reader 4  4:14 PM

I adored Giles :joy::sparkling_heart:

Amanda  4:14 PM

Dirty Dancing is amazing. That was a little nod to my mom. It’s one of the first “adult” romantic movies she let me watch as a kid

Reader 2  4:15 PM

it definitely worked…it was great. I love Val she’s a hoot!

Reader 5  4:15 PM

Growing up in upstate ny and Vermont I’m not surprised you weren’t aware. However, it’s because of you and others that this genre is booming. Thank you Thank you

Amanda  4:15 PM

Writing this book, the whole time, I was like, why don’t these people actually exist? I’d love to hang out with them

Reader 2  4:15 PM

haha really? very nice I guess it is more adult then some movies.. lol

Reader 4  4:16 PM

Oh jeez that’s a writer’s mood :joy: I’m always like dang why can’t real people be like my characters, the real world is so disappointing

Reader 2  4:16 PM

I wouldn’t mind hanging out with them all specially Olivia :heart_eyes:

Reader 5  4:17 PM

And why aren’t we making movies out of these wonderful books?

Reader 1  4:17 PM

We should all just get a bed and breakfast slash writer’s retreat and hang out 🙂

Reader 4  4:17 PM

How long did you spend writing this book? It seems to have come together pretty quickly for a first book.

Amanda  4:17 PM

omg, I totally fell for Olivia writing this, I think my wife was a bit jealous lol

Amanda  4:17 PM

That’s an amazing idea, Reader 1 yes

Reader 2  4:17 PM

I can see it!

Reader 5  4:18 PM

I can picture these characters on film. Who would you want to play Olivia?

Amanda  4:18 PM

I’m glad it seemed quick lol This is the first piece of fiction I’ve ever wrote, even though I’m an English major, there was a huge learning curve for me. So, this book took me a little over two and half years to put together.

Reader 1  4:19 PM

Not bad at all for a first novel! Did you use beta readers to help you or was it mostly a solo effort?

Reader 4  4:19 PM

Wow. That is quick :sob:

Reader 4  4:19 PM

We’re gonna pretend I didn’t take 9 years to publish a book that made numbers

Amanda  4:20 PM

Olivia, physically, is based off of Darby Stanchfield,from Scandal :heart_eyes:

Reader 5  4:20 PM

Reader 4, there is something to be said for perseverance

Reader 2  4:21 PM

at least you didn’t trash hide it  away like Reader 1 did with her’s :wink::wink: ….(sorry you know I have to throw that out there every now and then LOL)

Amanda  4:21 PM

I agree, Reader 5. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, just enjoy the process

Reader 4  4:21 PM

That’s definitely true :sparkling_heart::sparkling_heart:

Amanda  4:22 PM

I had help, to answer Reader 1’s question. I worked with a student at my college’s writing center. My writing partner helped shaped this book for sure

Reader 1, did you throw out an entire MS?

Reader 2  4:22 PM

Take all the time in the world at least you know its well written and it definitely shows it means something to you…for taking your time.

Reader 4  4:23 PM

Okay here’s another thing I just have to get out there, what is it with lesfic and lawyers, do lesbians just love lawyers that much :thinking_face:

Reader 2  4:23 PM

its the suits

Reader 4  4:23 PM

I mean, the suits are definitely nothing to complain about :thinking_face:

Amanda  4:23 PM

I’m obsessed with anything law lol The Good Wife is legit one of my favorite shows

Reader 1  4:23 PM

I didn’t throw it out – I just never published it. It was my first book and I learned a lot, but it wasn’t written to market and it didn’t have a whole lot of purpose. I consider it a practice book

Reader 2  4:23 PM

My first book I started my MC is a lawyer lol

Reader 5  4:23 PM

Exactly, the pencil skirts!

Reader 5  4:24 PM

At the risk of sounding ignorant, what is MC?

Reader 4  4:24 PM

You don’t have to be a lawyer to wear a blazer and pencil skirt, I do it all the time and I don’t even go outside :joy:

Reader 1  4:24 PM

I nominate Cara Delevingne in that I Feel Everything music video for all your WLW suit-wearing lawyer needs!

Reader 8  4:25 PM

I kind of like that you didn’t always take the predictable route. I mean, while this had an element of long-distance relationship, the relationship developing (and always being shown) in person was really good. And, I normally hate where there’s a big secret that’s going to destroy everything… but… while the secret was there, it didn’t feel as unnecessarily dragged out as that type of storyline often can be. It always felt true to the characters, and I appreciated that!

Reader 5  4:25 PM

I agree Reader 1!!

Amanda  4:26 PM

I was hoping the “secret” came off okay, and more true to Avery’s kind nature.

Reader 5  4:27 PM

I loved the balance in the book between the amount of sex and passion, to the storyline!!  It was perfect!

Reader 4  4:27 PM

The flirting was soooo :heart_eyes::heart_eyes:

Amanda  4:28 PM

No one was bothered by the 30-page sex scene, I take it? lol

Reader 2  4:28 PM

and NO Jodi Comer in a suit is to die for!! :heart_eyes:

Reader 1  4:28 PM

Yeah, the banter was wonderful, especially when they were first getting to know each other. The sunrise and racing each other across the dunes… :heart:

Reader 5  4:28 PM

Exactly Reader 4!!! 

Reader 4  4:28 PM

like a 30-page sex scene is a problem? :woman-shrugging::skin-tone-2:

Reader 2  4:28 PM

of course not..longer the better

Reader 8  4:28 PM

It depends on what definition of bothered you use! 😉

Reader 4  4:28 PM

I mean tbh the two hundred pages after Avery and Olivia met were basically just foreplay no matter how you look at it so

Reader 1  4:29 PM

“Ugh, I cannot believe you included 30 whole pages of sex” – no one, ever

Amanda  4:29 PM

We’ll just blame all that foreplay on Olivia and her issues with women and power tools

Reader 4  4:30 PM

Who can blame her???

Okay so here’s the juicy question which part was the best to write and which part was the hardest

Yes, that’s two questions, don’t point that out

Amanda  4:31 PM

Omg, um, the hardest was probably the fishing date chapter, because of the amount of research I put into it. I knew nothing about deep sea fishing

Reader 4  4:32 PM

Ohhh that was super good though, way to make me wish I could have a hot date on a deep sea fishing boat even though I have never once fished or felt the inclination to do so

Amanda  4:32 PM

The best was the first kiss. I had that scene written before a lot of the others

Reader 4  4:32 PM

Omggg the whole aquarium scene 🥰🥰🥰

the first kiss is always the best scene to write imo

Reader 5  4:33 PM

Yes, the Aquarium scene was one of my favorites

Amanda  4:33 PM

That scene still gives me heart yummies, for real. I know it was a slow, slow burn getting to that part, but hopefully the wait was worth it

Reader 4  4:34 PM

I loved seeing Olivia more vulnerable and as on-the-nose as it was the thing with the stingrays and “taking a risk reaching while they’re taking a risk reaching for you” just felt so sweet

Reader 5  4:34 PM

That scene was perfectly placed!!

Reader 1  4:34 PM

Yesss I loved that, it was super romantic and it also managed to make stingrays sound adorable 🙂

Reader 4  4:35 PM

Right?? I never thought I’d think “aw cute fluffy stingrays” but Amanda had the last laugh

Amanda  4:35 PM

Stingrays are adorable. The woman at the aquarium told me when I was doing research they have personalities like puppies? I was like whatttt???

Reader 4  4:35 PM


I love that

Reader 1  4:36 PM

I also had to look up videos hatching sea turtles at one point, so props for all the cute aquatic animal details throughout 🙂

Hmm… now I need to go to Sea World and check out the stingrays

Reader 4  4:36 PM

Watch as aquariums get flooded by lesbians wanting to see cute stingrays and get confused what’s going on

Reader 2  4:37 PM

sea turtles are amazing to see hatch. I can say I did see that when I lived in Hawaii

Amanda  4:37 PM

I am OBSESSED with sea turtles. It was def no burden on me doing sea creature research at all. And yes, go pet some stingrays if you get a chance. They’re super soft

Turtle hatching is on my bucket list for sure

Reader 5  4:37 PM

Better yet, go to the Caribbean and swim with them. And have one placed on your back. It was amazing

Amanda  4:37 PM

My wife and I did that on our honeymoon. it’s wild

Reader 2  4:38 PM

it’s beautiful to see…your gonna enjoy it alot Amanda.

Reader 4  4:38 PM

I’m jealous :sob::sparkling_heart: that sounds amazing

Amanda  4:39 PM

I wanted to go shark diving in a cage, but then I watched 47 Meters down, and nevermind

Reader 4  4:39 PM

So you had this interest in aquatic animals and that drove you to make all the Olivia side of things but do you have an interest in carpentry too or where did Avery come from

Reader 2  4:39 PM

where did you have the idea of her grandmother being a closet lesbian and the letters?

Amanda  4:40 PM

Avery’s carpentry is because of my grandfather, he made tools for General Electric.

Reader 4  4:40 PM

Ohhhhhh that’s so cool :heart_eyes:

Amanda  4:41 PM

When I was a teenager, I came across love letters between my grandmother and her first husband. They were written in the 40s and super romantic. And that’s how the idea for Tides started. Love letters…but gay lol

Reader 1  4:41 PM

Aww, that would be so cool to find! Do you still have them?

Reader 8  4:41 PM

I also appreciate the slightly-unusual-for-fiction take on the unsupportive-family-member-reacting-to-coming-out. Not that they were 100% horrible or completely lock-step with the religious teachings they’d learned. As somebody who had an unsupportive mother, it was nice to see something different explaining an intolerant reaction.

Amanda  4:42 PM

I have some. My grandmother was generous enough to let me have them, for this book

Reader 2  4:42 PM

agreed Reader 8

Reader 4  4:42 PM

Did you tell her you were gonna make her book alter-ego gay

Reader 2  4:42 PM

thats amazing..and super cute

Amanda  4:43 PM

LOL not sure she knows what the purpose of them were. I’d like to keep it that way too lol

Reader 3  4:44 PM

Are you a foodie Amanda because food plays quite a role in the book?

Reader 1  4:44 PM

Yeah we don’t necessarily need grandma reading the 30-page love scene

Reader 4  4:44 PM

I am a major foodie and soooo appreciated that aspect of the book :heart_eyes::heart_eyes:

Reader 2  4:45 PM

oh come on…my grandmother, if she was still alive, would totally get a kick out of it lol

Amanda  4:45 PM

I have a love-hate relationship with food lol I’m def not a foodie, I hate cooking tbh. So I think I just like living vicariously through my characters. You’ll see food being a common theme in my books for this reason

Reader 4  4:45 PM

Hahaha that’s fair :joy: You can be a foodie and just like eating instead of cooking, that’s valid

Amanda  4:46 PM

My grandmother is Uber Catholic, and she would most def not enjoy any aspect of my writing. Esp the amount of times I use the word pussy lol

Reader 2  4:47 PM

yes it was dropped like 10 times or more just in the first chapter :joy:

Amanda  4:47 PM

which is why I forbid my mom from reading it as well lol

Reader 4  4:47 PM

Skylar was a fun character :ok_hand:

Reader 2  4:47 PM

makes sense

Reader 4  4:48 PM

In general if the word pussy is on the first page it makes sense you wouldn’t show the book to your mom

Rule of thumb

Amanda  4:48 PM

Skylar was fun. A little aggressive and controlling, tho? But hopefully I made her well-balanced enough

spoiler: I didn’t use the word pussy at all in my next book, and I told my mom she’s free to read this one lol

Reader 4  4:49 PM

Yeah Skylar really ticked me off when they had their fight but I was glad we got Skylar apologizing and not that thing I see sometimes where it’s like “oh we’re friends we were both in the wrong it’s behind us” like I was expecting to happen

Reader 1  4:49 PM

She seemed like she had room for growth, which always makes for an interesting character. I’d love to see how Veronica changes her over the long-term

View newer replies

Amanda  4:50 PM

Yes, I just want someone to make me food. My wife hates cooking too, so most nights, we just stare at each other and do nothing until we starve

Reader 1  4:50 PM

I know that feel. “Which of the four restaurants that will deliver around here shall we order tonight?”

Reader 2  4:51 PM

I hate cooking but I like baking…depending on my mood.. :woman-shrugging::skin-tone-3:

Amanda  4:51 PM

our town is too small and rural. There is no delivery here :sob:

Reader 4  4:51 PM

I love cooking so I got a lil inspired to make some fancy food after reading the book haha

So, my roommates appreciate you, Amanda.

Amanda  4:51 PM

y’all need to come over and feed me and my lazy ass lol

Reader 2  4:51 PM

we jut have crappy and lack of delivery restaurants here…so I understand.. lol I make a lot of pasta and tacos

Reader 1  4:52 PM

Haha so basically what I thought I was doing was complaining about my 4 delivery options but actually I was bragging… my bad (edited)

Reader 4  4:52 PM

I’ll make you some key lime cheesecakes if you sign your book for me :ok_hand:

Amanda  4:52 PM

LOL the one (1) pizza place we had just closed too.

Reader 1  4:52 PM

Everybody start chipping into the bed and breakfast fund – I’ll bite the bullet and cook for us (for a while anyway)

Reader 4  4:53 PM

See we’ve got a bunch of cooks this bed and breakfast will be hopping

Amanda  4:53 PM

For real, Reader 1. This needs to happen. I think it should be in the Outer Banks though, because I’m biased. Also, my favorite pizza place ever is down there and I miss it

Reader 1  4:55 PM

Agreed. Plus I just got done watching the Netflix remake of Tales of the City so I’m picturing it kinda like that – great big house full of LGBT+ ladies and creative types living our best lives

Reader 4  4:55 PM

It’s a perfect plan :+1:

Amanda  4:56 PM

This is perfect. We can start a GoFundMe to get the ball rolling

Reader 1  4:56 PM

I like it!

Reader 4  4:56 PM

Amanda’s book turning us into a business venture :joy::sparkling_heart:

Amanda  4:57 PM

Could we have a hound dog named Harley, too?

Reader 5  4:57 PM

Just let me know where to show up with my knives!!

Reader 1  4:57 PM

Book club is never boring 🙂

We definitely need a mascot – Harley sounds good to me!

Reader 2  4:57 PM

sounds good to me! don’t forget Charlie and Scout too

Reader 4  4:57 PM

All we need is the sexy woman with the power tools

Reader 5  4:58 PM

This actually is starting to sound like a good plot for a book!

Reader 1  4:58 PM

I have pretty much every power tool but I wouldn’t say I’m the most competent with them – I can bring them and we can find the lady to wield them when we get down there 🙂

Amanda  4:58 PM

I have a question for everyone, because my mother in law always mentions it when I see her, could Tides have a sequel? If not a full-length, a novella?

Reader 2  4:59 PM

of course you do Reader 1!! haha

YES please!

Reader 4  4:59 PM

Oh, yeah, because running a bed and breakfast with a queer woman owner and hiring a queer woman carpenter good with power tools when she comes and stays definitely won’t lead anywhere we have an entire book to see already

Reader 1  4:59 PM

Same couple, or are you thinking of telling Skylar’s story (yes please) or someone else’s in the same setting?

Reader 8  5:00 PM

And… yes, Skylar would be an excellent way to connect with Avery and Olivia.

Reader 5  5:00 PM

Yes, Skylar and Veronica

Reader 7  5:01 PM

Deffo Skylar and Veronica’s story

Amanda  5:01 PM

I don’t know? I’d be open to any type of sequel, I guess. I’d love to do Skylar and Veronica, but I think writing a POC as a main character is definately out of my lane?

Reader 3  5:01 PM

Can you ever see yourself writing a completely different genre, say historical or sci-fi for example?

Reader 2  5:02 PM

lol…you could do it….and you could technically if you wanted to write about Veronica and Skylar and also do a sequel with Avery and Olivia as well there’s 2 books for you!!

Amanda  5:03 PM

I’ve been thinking about dabbling in romantic suspense, for my next project? With death and murder and a cold case? Not 100 on it yet though, because thats a lot of research involved

Reader 1  5:03 PM

Ooh, yeah – we need more romantic suspense in lesfic!

Reader 4  5:03 PM

Wanting to stay in your lane is definitely a valid reason :sparkling_heart: I mean, you could always just write a book that’s not really a sequel in any traditional sense but includes a little crossover action we all love that

Reader 2  5:04 PM

yes we do need more romantic suspense…it’s my favorite besides medical

Amanda  5:05 PM

Good idea, Reader 4. I’d rather promote more authors of color in lesfic, which I think esp in romance we need to do, given what’s happened with the RWA, than to put myself in somone else’s story I shouldn’t be telling

Reader 4  5:05 PM

Oh definitely :sweat_smile::sweat_smile:

Amanda  5:06 PM

How about Medical/Lawyer/Romantic suspense? Get it chocked full of pencil skirts

Reader 5  5:06 PM

Ohhh yeah!!

Reader 2  5:07 PM

ooo…YES PLEASE!!! I would be in heaven!!!

Amanda  5:07 PM

That’s a lot of research. But y’all are def giving me confidence to go in the suspense direction.

Reader 2  5:07 PM

I love that you see more medical/cop so would be amazing to see a change from that lol

Reader 1  5:08 PM

Do you have something you’re working on right now, Amanda?

Amanda  5:09 PM

I literally just gave my next book, Fire & Water, to my editor this afternoon. So I’m feeling a little lost atm, and putting feelers out for the next book idea

Reader 1  5:09 PM

Woo hoo, congrats on that milestone!

Reader 4  5:09 PM

That’s so exciting :sparkling_heart::sparkling_heart: I can’t wait to see it!!

Reader 2  5:10 PM

Whispers write suspense write suspense…… LOL

Reader 1  5:10 PM

Also… That’s the glassblowing book, yes? I can’t wait for it. Is there a release date yet?

Amanda  5:10 PM

I’m really proud of this book. I started in in the fall of 2017, so it’s been with me a long time, and as sad as I am to see it go out into the world, I’m so ready to share it with everyone

Reader 5  5:10 PM

Where is it set?

Amanda  5:11 PM

Yes, my glass blowing book. I’m hoping i’ll get it back this week, or next. So early March for release. And it’s set in Vermont this time

Reader 2  5:11 PM


Reader 1  5:11 PM

Me too!

Reader 2  5:12 PM

I think I need to go watch Three To Tango with Neve Campbell cause DAMN!

Reader 5  5:12 PM

If your first Book is any indication of how your next book will be, I can’t wait to read it. It’s gonna be awesome

Amanda  5:13 PM

I think the growth in my writing, and my style is going to be surprising. But in a very good way.

I hope everyone likes it

Reader 4  5:13 PM

That’s a good way to tempt me given how lovely this first book already was 🥰🥰🥰

Amanda  5:15 PM

It’s an age-gap, enemy-to-lover, with a little bit of second chance thrown in there. Aside from the two MCs, I think you’ll equally enjoy the supportive cast in this one as well

Reader 1  5:15 PM

Nice. How big is the age gap?

Reader 5  5:15 PM

Sounds great

Amanda  5:16 PM

15 :upside_down_face: a good, decent gap LOL

Reader 4  5:16 PM

Ohhh enemies-to-lovers trash over here

Reader 1  5:16 PM

I like reading the bigger age gaps – makes it more challenging for them to get over their differences and make it work

We’re a little past the top of the hour – does anyone have questions for Amanda they’ve been holding onto? Or Amanda, any more questions for us?

Amanda  5:18 PM

Same. I love age-gaps. And My one MC is 50. I wanted to give a loving shout out to the older ladies. I think there’s a lot of emphasis on younger women in romance, so that was my decision with making her “older”

Reader 4  5:19 PM

Ooooohhh I have a question for Amanda, Amanda why are you perfect :heart_eyes:

Reader 1  5:19 PM

Definitely, and I love that in lesfic we have readers all across the demographics who are excited to read about different types of main characters. In contemporary/straight romance, it’s all very same-same, so I’m glad we get that kind of diversity!

Amanda  5:19 PM

stop making me blush, Reader 4 lol

Reader 4  5:19 PM

Lesfic is the best fic 🥰

Reader 1  5:20 PM

We just found our new slogan

Reader 7  5:20 PM

Meanwhile this nearly 50 yr old decrepit old woman is off to bed night  (edited)

Reader 4  5:21 PM

So yeah in summary Amanda you’re amazing and the book was amazing and I’m grateful to have you here and to have you and your writing in my life

Amanda  5:22 PM

Y’all are awesome. I’m humbled by everyone’s kind words. I’m so happy you enjoyed Tides

Reader 9  5:24 PM

It was a good book. It took me a while to read through compared to other books though. I loved the layers of prose and description in the book, but it also slowed down my reading speed a touch. Though in a way that’s good because i think things stuck with me more because of that. It was a new experience.

Reader 4  5:24 PM

Oh yeah how many words was the book? I think I drowned my own question in fangirling anyway but I was wondering that

Amanda  5:24 PM

It was long-winded in places lol I’ll admit that. I think it ended up around 105k

Reader 1  5:25 PM

Ooh wow, even more respect for finishing it in 2.5 years in that case – that’s basically 2 books compared to most lesfic

Reader 4  5:25 PM

Oh, gosh. Yeah that’s the length of both my current books put together :joy:

Amanda  5:26 PM

Fire and Water ended at 85k. I think it speaks for my growth this time around

Reader 2  5:26 PM

meh…longer books are better!!!

Reader 1  5:26 PM

BUT how many pages of that are sex scenes? 🙂

Amanda  5:27 PM

It’s still a decent chunk, and the sex scene is good and an equally slow burn

Reader 4  5:28 PM

I was kinda hoping for it to be an indecent chunk tbh

Reader 5  5:28 PM

That alone speaks to her talent!! It’s difficult enough writing an average size book and keep the reader entertained, by to double the size and still manage to make the readers want more is amazing

Reader 4  5:28 PM

Right?? Amanda is a genius and we’re keeping her thx

Amanda  5:28 PM

Thanks, Reader 5

Lesfic Book Club: Forbidden Melody

For our January meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Forbidden Melody by Magnolia Robbins. 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  3:56 PM

I need to find Maggie’s playlist for this book so I can have some mood music for the chat

Maggie Robbins  3:56 PM

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/18Tfl71RbEZAb19QQfIeYs this is one somebody made, not me though lol

Reader 2  4:00 PM

I listened to some of the great music today while working on a proposal for my company at home. Salut D’Amour is incredibly beautiful!

Reader 3  4:00 PM

Maggie I want to say That I absolutely loved Forbidden Melody! Emma and Juliet were just so…..lovable and amazing! I couldn’t put it down! 🥰:purple_heart::purple_heart: You did such an amazing job with Emma and her being deaf. I was really impressed!

Maggie Robbins  4:01 PM

Salut D’Amor and Tristesse are both my favs, for sure. It was definitely fun writing that book just to learn some songs I hadn’t heard of before. And thank you, Reader 3! I appreciate that.

Reader 1  4:02 PM

Just to officially call book club to order for those who are watching but not chatting yet… thanks so much for joining us Maggie!

Reader 4  4:02 PM

Oh oh oh oh is it time it’s time

Maggie Robbins  4:03 PM

You’re welcome! Thanks for having me. :slightly_smiling_face:

Reader 3  4:03 PM

You are very welcome! :purple_heart::purple_heart:

Reader 5  4:03 PM

Phew, I’m here just in time! Sorry, the writing muse took me by surprise and I only just noticed the time, lol!

Reader 1  4:04 PM

What did everyone think of Forbidden Melody?

Reader 3  4:04 PM

My question I do have is what gave you the idea for this book?? What inspired it??

Reader 5  4:04 PM

Can I get a @Reader 4 squeal out of the way before we get started?? I loved this book so much :joy: I absolutely loved it!

Reader 6  4:04 PM

I really enjoyed this book. :slightly_smiling_face:

Reader 4  4:04 PM

Ok full disclosure I didn’t finish my reread because I’d forgotten how long it was and totally misjudged what would be an appropriate reading pace but still it’s not like I could have forgotten the ending anyway the part when Emma goes to Norway is like :broken_heart:

Reader 7  4:04 PM

I loved the book so much! I first read it a year ago, around the time I first joined this group

Reader 2  4:05 PM

I loved it so much that I had to buy a physical copy after finishing it on KU.  Well done Maggie!

Reader 5  4:05 PM

I spent the whole of Christmas day reading it, lol.

Reader 4  4:05 PM

It really is an amazing book :sob: I’ve probably squealed about it to plenty of people already but it was my gateway into lesfic and I’m eternally grateful to Maggie for it

Reader 3  4:06 PM

Yes I was shedding lots of tears!!!! But then again I didn’t like Lydia at all!!! I was giving her bigger daggers then Juliet was!! :joy::joy:

Reader 1  4:07 PM

Hahaha aww, why? Just because she was getting in the way?

Reader 3  4:10 PM

A little bit..yes but also because the way she was with Juliet was just not okay. I get it I do…and she mostly what she did for her feelings for Emma, but what was going on between them was between them! Lydia should have butted out! :woman-shrugging::skin-tone-2: I’m sure Emma didn’t even know that Juliet trued to contact her when she left. That broke me

Reader 7  4:06 PM

Also, this book feels almost like it was meant for me: my wife and I are both musicians and she actually has Ehlers-Danlos (but, thankfully, without any hearing loss from her type of the disorder)

Maggie Robbins  4:08 PM

Wow, thank you guys! I’m glad you enjoyed it. :slightly_smiling_face: Yeah, I hated writing the Emma part when she goes to Norway, because I hated splitting them up again, but it had to be done. And Reader 7, that is really awesome about you both being musicians and that you could relate to the book in that way. I actually was inspired by Mandy Harvey, a musician who was on America’s Got Talent, who had Ehlers-Danlos. I’m partially deaf, so I wanted to do a book about someone in a similar situation, and so it all kind of fell together like that.

Reader 1  4:12 PM

So I assumed with the incredible depth of musical details that you’re a musician yourself, Maggie? What do you play and how much research did this book involve?

Reader 4  4:12 PM

Breaking your own heart is pretty necessary as a romance author :sweat_smile:  What was writing this book like for you? I know you operate in bursts of inspiration alternating with down periods, was it a book you spent a lot of time carefully crafting or was it the sort of thing that just came together with a lot of inspiration?

Reader 2  4:13 PM

I wanted to ask the music background question but Reader 1 said it better.

Maggie Robbins  4:17 PM

Okay, Reader 1’s first: So, yes, I am a musician. My dad’s side of the family is all musicians, they play bluegrass music. I got a violin when I was in middle school and started playing in orchestra during middle and high school. I also played piano growing up. I play quite a few instruments, just because of my family, but those two were the ones I knew sheet music from. The research on the orchestra side of things was a lot, and I know I still probably got some things mixed up from lack of familiarity with real orchestra, but I had fun talking with some family friends who are in a professional orchestra in Louisville, Kentucky, where I am from.

Reader 4: I was obsessed with this book. Out of all the books I’ve written, it came to me the quickest, and was the most emotional for me to write. I knew I wanted to write a student/teacher romance at first, and had spent a lot of time obsessively reading books in that genre, but I didn’t decide to write a music book until I saw a video about Mandy Harvey, the musician I spoke about with Ehlers-Danlos, who was also deaf by the age of 18-19 years old. Then it all kind of clicked for me. I had a music teacher in high school who was a lot like Juliet, and I wanted to emulate her, because she was always so obsessed with music and the music world, and I thought that was so interesting. Plus, you know, with my family background I know a lot of music obsessive people, so it seemed to work. But it really was just something that, once I had the idea, it came to me pretty easily, surprisingly. I could see their story unfold in my head better than anything else I’ve ever written.

Reader 3  4:20 PM

I love this! Student teacher is my next favorite trope next to medical so yay! So happy you wrote this book it set the bar pretty high though! It’s right up there Reader 1’s Lakeside series!!!

Reader 1  4:21 PM

So cool – were you a musician first and discovered writing later, or have you always explored your creativity in multiple ways?

Reader 8  4:21 PM

Why the age gap – it’s a big gap

Reader 3  4:23 PM

Where did you get the idea of Miranda and Timothy?! I believe they are my favorite side characters ever! :purple_heart:

Maggie Robbins  4:27 PM

Reader 4: I think I wrote the book in a month, actually, the first draft. Then my friend Amanda took it from me and helped shape it up and fix a lot of little things. I owe her for the ending, it had a completely different ending originally.

Reader 1: I think it was around the same time, to be honest. I had a little book I wrote in elementary school that I illustrated that was published in a local journal. And I think I started playing around the same time.

Reader 8: The age gap was actually important to me, and I had a reasoning behind doing it. I wanted to show a “seasoned musician” who was a ‘know it all’ (but rightfully so) and had done this for a long time, contrasting it with a more beginning of her career musician, who everything was new to, and who still had that fiery attitude about her like she knew it all too, but had barely started. I hadn’t expected it to be an age gap and it certainly wasn’t for any other reason than the contrast I wanted to show. Juliet just felt like she needed to be at the pinnacle of her career, and I wanted to give her a reason that she could “retire” if she wanted to, when she left to go to Emma in London. If she had been younger, I don’t know if she would have done it.

Reader 2: Thank you! That was very nice of you to say. I like to say I’m an ‘experimental’ author, I always want to try weird things and different things. So, it all ends up being vastly different.

Reader 3: Miranda and Timothy were based off of the friends of ours who play for the Louisville orchestra, who are also… Miranda and Timothy! LOL. I know, real creative. They were my favorite side characters too. I thought they did a good job of keeping Juliet grounded and acted good as a moral compass for her at times.

Reader 4  4:28 PM

How old was Juliet? I don’t remember if the actual number ever came up :thinking_face:

Maggie Robbins  4:29 PM

She was in her 40s, and Emma was mid-20s, entering graduate school age.

Reader 4  4:31 PM

I don’t typically spring for age gap romance but I really liked the take on it here :sparkling_heart::sparkling_heart: Parts like Emma helping Juliet see the music in a new way when she talked about physically feeling it, I feel like the story was a lot of Juliet learning things from Emma which was really engaging and felt really important a story to tell

Maggie Robbins  4:32 PM

Exactly, and I wanted Juliet to kind of realize that, because she was so stuck in her ways and a know-it-all type when it came to music, it was refreshing for her to have a completely new perspective in that way.

Reader 4  4:33 PM

Okay but also here’s the question that’s really on my mind though, how do you think having published this book has affected you?? I know you mentioned a few times a feeling of struggle with the idea that you’d peaked with this book. Do you think that it’s, ultimately, made telling stories harder after this one?

Reader 6  4:33 PM

I didn’t like it that Emma didn’t take the dangers of Juliet’s father seriously until it hit the fan, and then she just left.

Reader 3  4:34 PM

Yeah that irked me too! I was Yelling at her! :woman-shrugging::skin-tone-2:

I know but she remembered when she needed to remember though…that’s the soul wrenching

Reader 3  4:33 PM

Yes! That’s amazing and definitely her moral compass! I loved even more since she knew Emma! Not to mention that Emma and Juliet met at such a drastic heartbreaking time in both their lives..(the wedding) It was such an amazing soul wrenching they belong together  moment to be so drawn together from neither remembering til they reached that moment in there lives! It was beautiful!! :purple_heart::purple_heart:

Reader 1  4:34 PM

Not to mention how long it took Juliet to remember… :broken_heart:

Maggie Robbins  4:37 PM

Reader 4: LOL yeah, I wasn’t prepared for people to like the book so much (although I know some people didn’t, and thats okay). But the reception kind of threw me for a loop, and yeah, it’s definitely been hard to recover from. It’s definitely getting easier, but the book and I have a love-hate relationship at times, for sure.

Reader 6: Yep, everybody got that one, Emma was definitely young and still immature in ways, and it caught up to her. She had to “grow up” a little bit more, I felt like, hence part of the reason for the time-lapse.

Reader 1/Reader 3: Interestingly enough, I didn’t anticipate having them meeting at the wedding at first, but it kind of all clicked later to have that part. It would have made sense for them both to be there, mingling in the same social circles, and yeah, they were both vulnerable in those moments and needed someone to lean on. So, I thought it worked well.

Reader 7  4:38 PM

Do you have another of your books you’d recommend to a reader who loved this one, but hasn’t (yet) read any more of your work?

Reader 4  4:39 PM

Do you feel like the reception influenced your writing style? Did you feel like you had to lean into the things that worked in this book, or conversely that you had to lean away to define yourself as not just being this book?

Reader 2  4:40 PM

Maggie,  you definitely have not “peaked” with this awesome book.  I finished “Nerd Love” a week ago and couldn’t put it down…what a fun read!

Reader 3  4:40 PM

It was beautiful Maggie! And glad it happened that way! It showed more of there souls recognizing each other. The moment Juliet played with Emma at her audtion it was solidified that they were meant to be! It was epic!

Reader 6  4:40 PM

I loved the interaction between Juliet an Emma’s father. It was sad that Juliet didn’t get to attend the funeral because of the situation.

Reader 4  4:41 PM

Yeah I should definitely say you haven’t peaked with it at all, I can’t tell you how excited I am for Homespun

Reader 3  4:41 PM

When are we getting your Astronaut book???  I’m waiting patiently for it!!

Reader 6  4:42 PM

I was also happy when Juliet adopted Kira.

Reader 4  4:42 PM

Yesssssssss I loved the dynamic with Kira so much

Reader 1  4:42 PM

I would love to know how much research went into/is going into the astronaut book 🙂

Maggie Robbins  4:43 PM

Reader 7: If I recommend another book, it’ll have to be Homespun, which will be released at the end of next month/early March I haven’t decided yet. I can say with utmost certainty, it is not quite as good as FM, but it’s my next best book.

AND, for all of you lovely people here… I do have some news. While it ISN’T a sequel, my new project I’m midway through, features most of the cast from FM. Including a surprise scene at the beginning with Emma and Juliet. :slightly_smiling_face: So, you’ll have to wait and see! And Emerson Reed, one of the characters from FM is actually the Uncle of the new MC for this project. It’s also another classical music book, that will have a soundtrack and everything, so same vein as FM, but a completely different storyline.

Reader 4: Yeah, for sure. So, I met my best friend Amanda through writing FM, because she edited it for me. By the way, if you haven’t read her stuff (Amanda Kayhart) you should, it’s fantastic. But, she definitely helped me up my skills, for sure. I try to make each book better than the last, however I can.

Reader 6: I loved Emma’s dad. Her dad is based off of my dad. And the moments with them listening to music and playing together, are moments he and I shared, and I can say I cried through writing a lot of those scenes.

Reader 3: Astronaut book is coming, it’s on the backburner for a little bit, but it’s still coming! I promise. :slightly_smiling_face:

Reader 6: Juliet and Kira were meant to be, I had it planned that way from the get go, it was another growth moment for Juliet, I think.

Reader 3  4:43 PM

Yes Kira was such a monumental point I believe specially Juliet adopting her when Emma was away! It gave her part of Emma but also showed how much she has grown and changed an would except change when Emma and Juliet would meet again.

Maggie Robbins  4:43 PM

Reader 1: re: astronaut book, haha, yes. A LOT of research, which is part of the reason it has stalled.

Reader 4  4:44 PM

Ohhhh that Amanda!! I love her to death :heart_eyes:

Maggie Robbins  4:44 PM

Yeah, I heard she beta read your new book and that it’s very cute! :slightly_smiling_face:

Reader 3  4:44 PM

Yay!! That’s exciting!

Reader 4  4:45 PM

Oh my gosh she’s so perfect :sob::sob::sparkling_heart::sparkling_heart: Now I can’t wait for that new project too though I loved Emerson :sparkling_heart::sparkling_heart:

Reader 9  4:45 PM

Don’t forget I know people. Send me questions anytime re:astronauts

Reader 10  4:45 PM

NASA just released photos of 5 women astronauts. One of which is supposed to be selected for trip to moon.

Reader 9  4:45 PM

One is a Marine

I don’t have much to add (poorly timed family drama) but as a musician with minimal classical knowledge this book made me feel smarter. 🙂

Reader 8  4:46 PM

I felt like Juliet was 41 and accomplished. Is it common in the music world for an over bearing person like her father to have that much power? She had the credibility to stand on her own, yet she gave in to her father for all those years. Also, why did she give up the violin, a gift from her beloved grandmother?

Reader 4  4:46 PM

So, while writing this book, how many times exactly did you want to slap Juliet in the face,

Maggie Robbins  4:51 PM

Reader 8: I’m not sure how common it is in music, truth be told, but with a step-mom with stories about working on staff for heads of universities in Kentucky, there’s power playing all the time at schools, especially with people that have the money to do it. So, that was kind of where my inspiration for her father came from, was the stories I heard from my step-mom. And, that ending was part of what Amanda and I worked on together. It was really hard to write, I didn’t want her to give up the violin. But, if you recall, that was a huge thing where her father and Juliet butted heads. Her father wasn’t a musician, which was part of his jealousy with Juliet because of her bond with her grandmother, but also because she got this very expensive heirloom (which, he was very obsessive with money and power). In the original ending, she didn’t give up the violin, but I wanted that character growth for her in the end, so I ended up changing it. As much as she loved the violin, it ultimately was about the music, not the object, and her love for Emma. I stand by the ending, as hard as it was for her to give up the violin.

Reader 4: LOL all. the. time.

Melissa: I’ll find a good one, give me a second.

Reader 2  4:53 PM

Giving up the violin was a master stroke of storytelling…very heartbreaking but necessary.

Maggie Robbins  4:53 PM

Yeah, it was hard for me to do that to her, but Amanda and I talked about it a lot while editing, and I completely agree. I thought it was a necessary thing in the end.

Reader 4  4:53 PM

Definitelyyyyy that ending was so amazingly powerful I loved it 🥰🥰🥰

Reader 3  4:54 PM

Yes it was the best growth for her! (edited)

Reader 4  4:54 PM

Are there any other books you would say served as inspiration for this, or no?

Maggie Robbins  4:55 PM

Like I said, I read a lot of student/teacher romance books trying to figure out what I wanted to do, but nothing specifically. I realized I wanted to do something that nobody had done before, and so… that’s what I did! lol

Reader 4  4:56 PM

Oh, of course, who needs inspirations when you’re as generally inspired in everything you do as Maggie is :woman-shrugging::skin-tone-2: idol

Okay so crossover Emma and Juliet meet the leads of another one of your books, who would they have the best time with and you are banned from saying the current WIP where they already do show up

Maggie Robbins  5:00 PM

LOL Reader 4. Oh, that’s a hard one. Hmmm. Well, in Homespun, one of the MCs is a bluegrass musician (also like my dad, who plays banjo) and I think just with their musical backgrounds, they might get along. Plus, the other MC likes to dance, and we all know Juliet likes to dance so… :shrug: That’s my best thought. I’m not sure though, that’s a really good question!

Reader 8  5:01 PM

Thanks for your comments @Maggie Robbins . It put some of the story into perspective for me. I really felt the love/attraction between your MCs when they were playing the duets. It was very powerful imagery in my mind – kind of hot, even :blush:

Reader 4  5:01 PM

I know, right? I ask the best questions :woman-shrugging::skin-tone-2: I figured it’d be Homespun haha way to get me even more excited about it

Reader 6  5:02 PM

So what did Juliet’s dad do with the violin? I’m guessing he sold it?

Reader 4  5:04 PM

keeps it around to condescend at it instead of at Juliet probs

Maggie Robbins  5:05 PM

Thanks, Reader 8! Yeah… I have that bond with my family when we play, there’s something about music that you can’t put into words. It’s just a different type of “speaking” for lack of better way to phrase it. I always feel something special when I play music with my family. I wanted to capture that with them, I think it added a different dimension to their relationship, for sure.

I thought about that a lot, honestly, Reader 6, and I’ve flip-flopped about what I wanted to do, because for a little while I thought about a sequel, but I think how I’m doing it with the new project ended up being the right way to go, with them making an appearance. I kind of hint at what happened in this project, and in order not to spoil it, I’m just going to say that he in fact, doesn’t sell it.  :slightly_smiling_face:

Reader 4  5:07 PM

That is really true about the musical harmony though, I did classical singing in college just on the side and especially with singing since the instrument is inside your own body, there’s a really powerful feeling in harmonizing. Maybe that’s why I liked Lydia because she was my vocal girl haha

Reader 7  5:08 PM

Ah I was the other side of the equation: Back home, I did a lot of vocal accompanying and choral accompanying :slightly_smiling_face:

Maggie Robbins  5:09 PM

I had someone tell me I needed to write another book with Lydia and her wife in Norway. :slightly_smiling_face: I had to at least be nice and give her a happy ending, too. I felt kind of bad for her at times, even though she was definitely a wedge between Juliet and Emma for sure.

Reader 4  5:10 PM

Yeah I loved Lydia even if she did get in the way, I was glad she got her happy ending too

Reader 9  5:10 PM

Yeah but what lesbian didn’t crush on a least one friend?

Reader 4  5:10 PM


Maggie Robbins  5:10 PM

LOL yep.

Reader 8  5:11 PM

Lydia wasn’t a wedge, she was a age appropriate women that fell in love with her friend. Later she found someone she loved enough to marry!

Reader 4  5:12 PM

I mean, I honestly thought Lydia and Emma were pretty cute together and at first I was upset Juliet was in their way so I clearly read the book wrong, but tbf I was upset at Juliet for basically just breathing in the first third of the book or so

Maggie Robbins  5:13 PM

I poorly worded that, because that’s totally correct. I just think she was also hurt and sad that her feelings weren’t reciprocated, too. I was sad for her, because yeah, most of us know how that feels to not have those feelings reciprocated. But yeah, they definitely were meant to be just friends, and I definitely wanted Lydia to get a happy ending, for sure.

Reader 7  5:14 PM

I also liked Lydia, because in so many books, it is clear almost from page 1 that there is only one couple that could ever be together, but this showed that Emma had multiple possibilities for women who could make her happy, I thought

Reader 4  5:15 PM

That is a good point!! I did like that without it feeling like a love triangle story.

Reader 9  5:15 PM

Good points

Reader 2  5:16 PM

I actually admired Lydia for remaining a good friend.

Reader 1  5:17 PM

Agreed – they both took it in stride pretty quickly and got back to sharing textbooks, when it could have gotten awkward really easily

Maggie Robbins  5:18 PM

I had always envisioned them being friends for a while, and I wanted Emma to have that person who still had her back, even if it didn’t work out for Lydia the way that she anticipated. I like that point though, Reader 7, I hadn’t thought about it that way. I definitely was trying to keep it as far from love-triangleish as possible.

Reader 7  5:19 PM

Yes, it didn’t have that feel :slightly_smiling_face:

Reader 1  5:22 PM

Anybody have any more questions for Maggie?

Reader 4  5:22 PM

:woman-raising-hand::skin-tone-2: did you know that I love you maggie

Maggie Robbins  5:22 PM

No, Reader 4. This is brand new information. 🙂 lol

Reader 4  5:22 PM

Omg :triumph:

Reader 8  5:23 PM

Thank you again, Maggie. We look forward to your next book.

Maggie Robbins  5:23 PM

Thanks for having me guys, I really enjoyed talking with you all and answering questions! I’m glad you enjoyed the book. :slightly_smiling_face:

Reader 4  5:23 PM

Which book of yours should I read next while I wait for Homespun :heart_eyes:

Reader 5  5:23 PM

I can’t wait to read another! FM was admittedly the first of yours I’ve read but I’m 100% going to read more! :heart:

Reader 9  5:24 PM

Do you have more planned for audio?

Maggie Robbins  5:25 PM

Reader 4: Depends on what you’re in the mood for, my nerdy-geeky fun book is Nerd Love, Stay is for you if you like animals, and I loved Wildsky, it’s kind of in the same vein as what Homespun is going to be, a second chance/small-town romance.

Reader 9: I’m going to try and get all my books in audio, for sure! I like getting as many formats out there as possible. Most of my books have audio versions at the moment, at least my novels do. I’m planning to do it with all of them! :slightly_smiling_face:

Okay, guys! I’m going to head out, Sundays are my fun adulting days with laundry and food prep and all that fun. :slightly_smiling_face: So, you guys all have a great evening. Thank you again for inviting me to chat, it was a lot of fun!

Lesfic Book Club: Christmas on Emerald Mountain

For our December meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed my novel, Christmas on Emerald Mountain. 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

It’s it’s its… book club time!

Reader 1 4:00 PM

squealing begins

Cara Malone 4:01 PM

So I wanted to start off with a giveaway – I did a little cover design overhaul for this season and I just got the new paperback in the mail. It’s really purdy and I want to send a signed copy to somebody.

Reader 2 4:02 PM

Yay! I love the new cover!!

Reader 3 4:02 PM


Cara Malone 4:02 PM

If you want that somebody to be you, DM me with your favorite holiday lesfic book or favorite holiday movie. I’ll pick the winner at random this time tomorrow

Reader 4 4:00 PM

Will this book ever have a sequel?

Cara Malone 4:03 PM

I think I’d be more likely to go back to Emerald Mountain with a different couple and have a cameo with Joy and Carmen, rather than do an actual sequel.

Reader 3 4:03 PM

you can send all your prior characters there

or we can vote to send our favorites there. A Cara reunion

Cara Malone 4:04 PM

Ooh, I love that idea. I didn’t do an anthology this year because my bout of depression kinda crushed my autumn plans but this would be a really cool way to do it for 2020.

Reader 3 4:05 PM

Honestly, I just want to go to Emerald Mountain. I live in Colorado and it still sounded idyllic

Cara Malone 4:07 PM

I based it on my own skiing and winter experiences around Ohio, plus some online research into a defunct ski resort out there. Glad it resonated with a Coloradan!

Sequels featuring the same couple are really difficult to get right and the Rulebook series damn near killed me

Reader 5 4:04 PM

OMG, the Rulebook series was amazing! (Sorry, off on a tangent…)

Reader 1 4:06 PM

I mean I feel like there’s a lot that still can be done with Joy and Carmen but also I would physically die of squealing if you did release a sequel featuring them so that’s probably the best idea

Cara Malone 4:08 PM

I agree, I would love to know what happens on their road trip, same as I’m curious about what Raven and Kit are up to from Trail Magic. Writing an actual road trip adventure book is on my bucket list so maybe down the line both couples make cameos in a road trip story.

Reader 1 4:08 PM

Also definitely seconding the part about how I would love to go there especially if it involves a cute girl smashing my shins to oblivion

Cara Malone 4:10 PM

That scene was based on real life. Unfortunately, in my case, I got whiplash and the snowboarder was a jerk who just kept going!

Reader 3 4:06 PM

One thing I really liked about this book is how each day strategically brought them closer while also making the trip better for the family. It made the timeline believable

Reader 1 4:07 PM

Oh definitelyyyyy it really nailed the whirlwind romance aspect like that, with each day feeling so meaningful

Reader 6 4:07 PM

It was also funny for me, as I got closer to the end of the week and I’m wondering “How is Cara going to give us the ending we want?” And then she did

Cara Malone 4:09 PM

Believe me, I was thinking the same thing :joy: This was one of the first books I ever wrote largely by dictation so the process was different than my previous ones, more improvised.

Reader 1 4:10 PM

You did it via dictation?? Heck you’re even more amazing than I thought and that was already a very high bar

Cara Malone 4:12 PM

I did probably 50% of the first draft by dictation – I was learning how, so it took a while to get the rhythm. And if memory serves, this book took two complete tear down and rewrites until I was happy with it… most of my dictation books do, ugh haha

Reader 1 4:17 PM

That’s gutsy :joy::joy: I’m too weak to even admit to the kind of books I write in the first place so

Cara Malone 4:15 PM

Haha yeah you definitely need proper dictating atmosphere. I like to write my scene on an index card then go for a walk at the park. I used to stop when I saw people coming but I’ve run out of fucks to give on that subject

Reader 1 4:09 PM

The ending was absolutely a wild ride :sob: the part with Joy just dropping out of contact broke my heart like eight distinct times

Reader 4 4:13 PM

Am I right in thinking it was the snow globe that convinced Carmen to stay? I’m guessing she realized the significance of it being something of importance to Joy and that it showed that the relationship wasn’t just a fling to Joy.

Cara Malone 4:23 PM

Yep :blush: It started out with Carmen simply determined to give it back to Joy because it was precious to both of them, but the longer it took her to accomplish that goal, the more time she had to think about what her life without Joy would be like

Reader 3 4:13 PM

So where did the idea come from for this book?

Cara Malone 4:24 PM

I knew I wanted to write a Christmas romance, and honestly it started as a take on A Christmas Carol/Scrooge just because I was writing it in the middle of summer and was having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit. I knew I wanted to create a very Hallmark-y, festive ski town from my own skiing experiences, and the characters grew from there.

Reader 7 4:18 PM

Which part of this book was most difficult for you to work through?

Cara Malone 4:25 PM

Which part of this book was most difficult for you to work through?

It was surprisingly difficult to make sure it was packed to the gills with holiday vibes when I was writing it in August. I kept sending it to my editor and she kept sending it back like, “MORE CHRISTMAS!”

Reader 5 4:26 PM

I can just imagine your editor throwing the book at you and screaming haha

Reader 2 4:26 PM

That’s funny! It’s like Christmas is July but in August haha

Reader 1 4:27 PM

Honestly never would have imagined it was written in August so I think your editor did her job

Cara Malone 4:29 PM

She definitely had a big role in making this book – I don’t think it would have been as successful as it was if she wasn’t willing to keep pushing back at me and critiquing. She’s a godsend.

Reader 2 4:22 PM

What’s your favorite part of writing Lesfic?

Cara Malone 4:28 PM

My favorite part of lesfic is the community – I don’t know of any other genre that has as much reader-author interaction and I’ve made so many friends I can’t even believe it. My favorite part of actually writing lesfic is getting inside the characters’ heads, trying to figure out how to bring them together in a way that’s going to be meaningful beyond just the romance itself.

Reader 2 4:28 PM

If you could have Joy and Carmen meet one other couple, who would you choose? There’s SO many good couples you have…

Cara Malone 4:31 PM

I think it would be fun to do a Christmas cross-over with Serenity and Liv, and if not them, then I’m sticking with my original answer of having them go on a leg of a road trip with Raven and Kit.

Reader 6 4:31 PM

Yes, every character feels like a real person, with a life before and after the book!

Reader 8 4:33 PM

This may have already been asked, but what is your favorite holiday f/f story, written by another author?

Cara Malone 4:37 PM

I really wish I had time these days to be better-read so I could have more answers to this 🙂 I love anything AE Radley does and A Christmas Swedish Fairy Tale is awesome, and we read Miranda McLeod’s Holme for the Holidays for last year’s Christmas book club pick, which was hilarious and adorable.

Reader 1 4:33 PM

So the book is two years old, isn’t it? Do you feel like the age shows for you or that the way you write lesfic has changed since then, or do you think it’s still true to you as an author now?

Cara Malone 4:39 PM

Before I started publishing as Cara, I’d only ever written one full-length novel before, so I had no idea what to expect as far as how my writing would evolve. I think Emerald Mountain shows more of my literary fiction background than my more current books, which are more specifically romance genre. I’d say it’s still true to me but I like to think my writing style and mechanics have improved since then

Reader 1 4:41 PM

Did not even know you had a literary past before publishing as Cara!! I feel like I’m uncovering the Cara Malone Deep Lore

Cara Malone 4:42 PM

Well, I should qualify that by saying my original goal was to write haughty literary fiction and get published by a Big 5 publisher. Except my stuff back then was really weird and Random House was never gonna be interested

Reader 4 4:45 PM

Cara also writes sci-fi under the Mae Orwell pen name. Watchers. Fighters. Destroyers. I still need to read those 3. I am so far behind on my reading.

Reader 2 4:47 PM

They are amazing!!!! I still need to read the finished books I’ve only read the drafts so far on Wattpad

Reader 3 4:47 PM

Just out of curiosity, did you ever add up the cost of this lovely family vacation? Lol

Cara Malone 4:48 PM

Nope but that’s a fun idea… like when CinemaSins added up the damage in Christmas Vacation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSfBtRfYGTQ&feature=emb_title

Reader 4 4:49 PM

Oh, there’s my weird question for the day! :open_mouth: Is there a possibility in the future we can get a sci-fi lesfic romance Christmas is space book any time in the future?

Cara Malone 4:51 PM

Haha love it 🙂 I’m going to say definitely not as Cara because it would confuse the hell out of everybody who’s used to me writing contemporary romance, but I do think it could be an entertaining project for Mae. Sounds right up my alley as far as weird/absurdist stories go!

Aaand now you guys got me wanting to start writing for Mae again because I was going to let that pen name lie for a while, but it’s fun to get out of romance now and then.

Reader 1 4:52 PM

I feel like there’s a weirdly large amount of lesbian sci-fi (not that that’s something I’d ever ever complain about) so like honestly go for it

Okay but the real question I want to know is what did Carmen and Joy do next after the book ended like that’s the one we all want to know right

Cara Malone 4:55 PM

Oh no. Is this a real question I have to answer?

Reader 5 4:57 PM

Oooh, that’s an interesting question actually… If you continue a story in your head, is it really finished though??

Reader 3 4:55 PM

Ok, beyond the immediate enjoyment of the massive cabin…

have you thought what happened?

Cara Malone 4:56 PM

I would be fascinated to know among other authors, what percentage of them actually carry on the story in their heads after they type ‘the end’ and what percent don’t.

Reader 3 4:56 PM

And whether it’s book dependent

I know it is for me

Reader 6 4:56 PM

I was going to say that “As an author, I prefer to let my work speak for itself” was the obvious non-answer, but I figure I shouldn’t tell you how not to answer a question I want to know the answer to

Reader 1 4:57 PM

The first romance I wrote I cried when it ended because I didn’t want it to be over yet so I think it’s pretty clear at least I keep thinking long after what they do

Cara Malone 4:58 PM

I definitely feel this way about my series when I decide to end them, but it’s usually about losing the opportunity to keep exploring those characters/that setting rather than the actual place where I leave my characters.

Guilty @Reader 6 – I never know when to stop! When you’re writing a romance, it’s so hard to tell if “I want more” means “you stopped too soon” or “I really loved it and I will always want more no matter where you stop”

Reader 1 4:58 PM

But for real I was like “Carmen just go stay in Joy’s apartment already, she has a second bed open but I know you won’t need it anyway”

Reader 3 4:58 PM

well… both?

Cara Malone 4:59 PM

I think I’m going to opt not to answer the question for the time being. We’ll all find out together if/when I cameo Joy and Carmen in another story in the future

Reader 3 5:06 PM

What’s next after lakeside #5?

Cara Malone 5:07 PM

I’ll probably write a standalone – maybe that road trip story because I almost wrote a road trip adventure instead of Good Vibes – and then I’m going back to Fox County for another book in the forensics series.

Reader 1 5:15 PM

Do you have more Christmas romances in you, or does it just depend on what kind of inspirations hit you?

Cara Malone 5:15 PM

Oh definitely – I’ve been meaning to do another one for the last couple of years but it’s just a matter of timing

I probably would have written another one this year if I didn’t do the ShudderCon collaboration, but that took up my summer writing slot

Reader 4 5:16 PM

What about other holidays? Like Halloween? Perhaps in a murder mystery?

Reader 1 5:17 PM

Halloween romance doesn’t sound half-bad you know how the gays love Halloween

Cara Malone 5:17 PM

Yeah, Halloween is on my list, and Valentine’s Day is an obvious one for a romance author.

Reader 9 5:17 PM

Im sensing a holiday series.

Cara Malone 5:17 PM

The only thing that’s stopped me from writing a Halloween romance thus far is that I haven’t quite gotten inspired as to how to blend contemporary romance and horror – it is possible, but I need to figure it out

Reader 1 5:18 PM

A horror romance sounds… I mean, I’d read it

Reader 5 5:18 PM

Maybe two people are dressed up for Halloween and they don’t actually see each others face, then maybe two people meet under normal circumstances or something, and it turns out it was those two people who met at Halloween and didn’t know it, lol.

Lesfic Book Club: Just Jorie

For our November meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Robin Alexander’s novel, Just Jorie. 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.

Robin Alexander

I’m here…I think. LOL!

Reader 1


Reader 2

Woo hoo, welcome!

Reader 3


Reader 4


Robin Alexander

Hi Reader 1!

Reader 2

Thanks for joining us, Robin!

Robin Alexander

Thank you all for the warm welcome!

Reader 2

When people start asking questions, you can either reply in the chat like you’re doing now, or if you prefer, you can thread your answers by hovering over the person’s question and clicking the ‘Start a Thread’ button – either way is good!

Reader 5

Hey hey Robin!!! You’re like my 2nd favorite author behind our lovely Reader 2!

Robin Alexander

Thank you Reader 2. I’ll stay in the main chat. I’m afraid I may wander off by accident if I hit too many buttons.

Reader 1

Ok then… Robin are you as funny in real life as you are in your books?

Robin Alexander

Aw! Thank you Reader 5. Huge compliment.

Reader 5

You are welcome!

Robin Alexander

Reader 1chillia, I’m told I’m funny in real life. I think that’s mainly because I’m goofy and will invariably say or do something stupid. Much like my characters. LOL

May I call you Reader 1? I’m murdering the spelling of your name.

Reader 6

lol if you use @ and then star typing the name you’ll get options

Reader 1

You can call me Reader 1 x Who are your characters based on, particularly Colleen?

Robin Alexander

Ah Ha! Thank you Reader 6!

Reader 1

Think I just murdered the character’s name

Reader 5

Which book was your favorite to write??

Robin Alexander

@Reader 1 She was based on my grandmother’s best friend. She’d say just about anything and was hilarious.

Reader 4

I loved Grams and Coleen SO much!

Reader 2

They definitely stole the show at times!

Reader 1

Past tense? Does that mean we’ll never meet the real person behind the inspiration?

Robin Alexander

Reader 5, I think The Summer of our Discontent was probably my favorite.

Thank you READER 4!

Reader 5

I haven’t read that one yet it’s not on my list though

Reader 2

What made it your favorite to write?


Oh shit I forgot about book club

Sorry I was watching Dwayne Johnson

Robin Alexander

Sadly, Reader 1, I had lost Gram and Coleen aka Augie before I wrote Just Jorie. I was missing them, so I brought them back as characters.

Reader 2

Beautiful way to memorialize them

Reader 1

I got to the last third of the book and you’d set it up for some right good angst and drama….. but the issues resolved without any. I thought it was refreshing. Do you like / hate writing angst

Robin Alexander

Summer/Discontent came to me so easily. Mentally, I was at the camp with those characters.

Reader 6

I’m sure they enjoyed seeing themselves that way and are very proud of you from up above

Robin Alexander

Thank you Reader 6 and Reader 2!


Was there any specific inspiration for Just Jorie or did it just come to you?

Reader 3

So… given how Just Jorie started, do you have personal experience with travel not going to plan? Any personal experience that sparked their road trip to get home?

Robin Alexander

Reader 1, I can’t write angst to save my life. LOL I have no talent for it. Plus, I like to laugh and make others do the same.

Reader 2

It is sooooo hard to kill or otherwise torture your darlings!

Robin Alexander

Reader 3, YES! LOL! I have been stranded in so many airports and have considered renting a car and driving home. The worst was leaving Orlando in shorts and getting stuck in Nashville where it was freezing.

Reader 2, exactly!

Reader 1

I admit I prefer humor but have found I quite like writing arguments don’t I @Reader 6

Robin Alexander

In my earlier books, I tried angst, but it didn’t work for me.

Reader 6

Yes you are. I’m also crap at writing angst. It takes a ton of work

Reader 3

As somebody who grew up in Canada and now lives further south, I definitely can empathize with weather that’s too cold!

Robin Alexander

Reader 1, arguments can be great fodder for funny.


I’m uncomfortably good at torturing my characters. I wish I was as good as Robin at writing happy and loving books

Robin Alexander

I hear you Reader 6.

Reader 2

When Jorie and Lena met in the airport and wound up going to the hotel together I was like OMG IT’S A LESFIC PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES. And now I must know, was that intentional? Because I was totally there for it


It was so refreshing to have the minor conflicts dealt with quickly and easily

Robin Alexander

Reader 3, I can’t do cold either. If the temps drop below 70 I’m freezing.

Reader 3

Arguments can be great fodder for funny – like Grams and Coleen

Robin Alexander


LOL No, Reader 2, it wasn’t intentional, but you’re right. I’d forgotten about that movie.

Reader 1

It was actually really good because it was a twist to the norm. You expected it, you readied for it and it didn’t come.

Robin Alexander

Reader 1, I built suspense and didn’t know it. LOL!


Was there a specific moment that sparked this story or did it just come to you?

Reader 1

You’re a genius in disguise! So good a disguise you don’t recognize it yourself

Reader 5

What made you write Scaredy Cat?? I absolutely loved that one!

Robin Alexander

It just came to me. At that time, I was taking a lot of road trips and they gave me all sorts of ideas.

LOL Reader 1! I like that.

Reader 1

Which out of any of your characters would you like to be married to and who would you kill?


Why is it I wanted to ask that same question @Reader 1? It’s because we write angst and arguments.

Reader 6

Does that question also imply, is your wife a character?

Robin Alexander

Oh Scaredy Cat. I love scary movies, and the chance to kind of merge spooky and humor was too tempting.

Reader 5

Nice! It was definitely one of my favorite

Reader 6


(or am i confused)

Reader 1

Well it could imply it

But it wasn’t intended


Would you ever pull a jorie and agree to share a rental and hotel with someone?

Robin Alexander

Reader 1, that’s a tough one. I don’t think I could kill any of them. I’d probably want to marry Adrienne from the Gloria series. She dealt with Hayden so well, and alas, I am Hayden Tate.

Reader 1

Does that make your partner Adrienne then?

Reader 6

Do you have more books planned for audio?

Robin Alexander

READER 7. Oh no. I couldn’t do that. LOL I’ve watched too many horror movies. I’d probably spend the entire night with my hand on a lamp in case the stranger came at me with a spork or something.

Reader 6

I loved the Fall as well

Reader 5

Hahaha nice

Robin Alexander

Reader 1 and Reader 6, I think this will answer both of your questions about my wife status. I’m not married and currently single. My future wife will undoubtedly end up in my writing. LOL

Reader 4

She might be carrying your can of peas!

Reader 1

Do you write full time? Or do you have a day job too?


It’ll be a fan you meet at a con and you’ll write an entire book about it

Robin Alexander

Reader 6, I hope to get all of my books into audio. Temporary Girl is in the works now.

Reader 6

Maybe you’re like Jorie and you just need to write her first

Robin Alexander

LOL READER 4, I hope so. She’d be easy to spot,

Reader 1

Put a pic in your profile, this is a good place to flirt

Reader 2

Gotta spend more time in the canned goods aisle then

Robin Alexander

I write full time.

LOL Reader 1!

Reader 1

Ha ha

Robin Alexander

Right?! Reader 2. That would be better than the bakery for sure.

I love sweets.

Reader 1

Dogs or cats

Coffee or tea

Chocolate or savoury

Blondes or brunettes

(or red heads and I suppose I should throw in bald nowadays)

Robin Alexander

If I miss any questions, please bring them back around.

Reader 2

I don’t know, I’m pretty sure the bakery is an excellent place to pick people up

Reader 5

I’m single just saying since my precious Reader 2 is married


Yes I agree with Reader 1 this is a place full of flirts lol

Robin Alexander

Cats, Coffee, Chocolate, Brunettes…Blonde…Red…okay all.

Reader 5

I fit this criteria I also have a precious daughter shes 3

Reader 3

Ssh, READER 7! I don’t want my wife to cut me off!

Reader 1

You forgot bald?‍

Robin Alexander

OK you’re not helping Reader 2. You’ve given me permission to hang out in the bakery.

oh and bald. LOL!

Reader 2

I can’t apologize for this!

Reader 6

Ok, other basics. Plotter or pantser?

Robin Alexander

Reader 6, first, tell me what those things are. LMAO!

Reader 4

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one that didn’t know what they were until recently, lol.

Reader 6


How do you write? A strict outline or just let it fly

Robin Alexander

Cool Reader 5! I have a daughter too, she’s 22.

Reader 5


Reader 1

Ok, the one I want to dodge question. Who’s books have you read by authors on here

Reader 5

What gave you the idea for Rusty Logic?

Robin Alexander

LOL thank you READER 4. Reader 6, I let it fly. My brain is too unruly for that kind of organization.

Reader 6

So you’re a pantser!

Write by the seat of your pants

the nicer term is discovery writer, but not many people use that

Reader 1

We’re pantsers then Reader 6 yes?

Robin Alexander

Reader 1, I’m ashamed and saddened to say I haven’t read a book in years. Between writing and my family who have elected me as the go to girl for all issues, I never get that kinda of time.

Reader 1

Or panthers if my autocorrect has its way

Reader 2

GASP! So what do you like to do to unwind? I hope you get time to unwind!

Reader 6

Pantsers who create a few plot points to aim for

Robin Alexander

Yay! I’m a pantser. I like that term. I’m also a member of House Stark, and Ravenclaw

Reader 6


Reader 3

I thought I liked you!

Reader 1

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? And who would you choose to live there with you apart from family friends etc

Robin Alexander

Reader 2, my unwinding time is usually yard work. When I’m mowing grass, no one can call or text me and my mind just wanders. This is why sometimes I cut my neighbor’s grass. LOL Plus, I have the coolest mower ever!

Reader 2

Nice! I do find weed pulling to be oddly satisfying so I’m with you on that

Robin Alexander

Reader 1. Cat Island. I’d pick Johnny Depp because I’m sure he kept a lot of his pirate wardrobe and I want it.

Reader 4

I love Cap’n Jack!

Robin Alexander

It really is, Reader 2. Do you listen to music when you’re outside working too?

Reader 2

Yeah, either music or podcasts

What kind of music do you like?

Reader 1

Cat Island? Is that an island where there’s lots of cats? I’ve not heard of it. Johnny would be excellent company

Robin Alexander

My music library is crazy. One minute I’m listening to show tunes, Wicked is my fave, then the next, Head Like a Hole by Nine Inch Nails.

Reader 2

NIN is always welcome on my playlists too

Reader 1

How many characters are based on or loosely based on people you know?

Robin Alexander

Reader 1, There are some feline friends on Cat Island in the Bahamas. I LOVE the water and the beach, so that island is my happy place.

Reader 1

Sounds lovely

Reader 5

Would you ever co-write a book with another author? If so which author would you want to co-write with?


Do you listen to music when you’re writing?

Robin Alexander

All of my characters are based on people I know. My sister, Elaina is in a lot of my books. That child and her family are fodder for funny.

Reader 6

We thank them all for entertaining us indirectly.

Robin Alexander

Reader 5, I don’t know if I could co-author a book. When I write, the story unfolds as I write it, so I don’t know if the other author could resist killing me. LOL


Or the other author killing your main character lol

Reader 1

Do you write for set hours each day or do you skive off to watch tv here and there?

Robin Alexander

READER 7, sometimes, I do listen to music and sometimes the TV is on. I’m really weird because distraction seems to help my flow.


Reader 1

@Reader 6 do you ever feel like murdering me?

Reader 6

hahahaha no.

Reader 2

^ as if she’d admit it here in public

Robin Alexander

Reader 1, I think I may be part bat because my brain comes alive late at night.

Reader 6

But we aren’t in edits yet… you might kill me then.

Reader 1

That’s a certainty

Reader 6

Do you have the next books planned out already @Robin Alexander?

Robin Alexander

LOL! y’all are hilarious.

Reader 6

so… no?

Reader 1

@Reader 6 Then your name may or may not mysteriously vanish from the authors list

Reader 6

hahahahaha (saves a backup of the story every day…)

Robin Alexander

I’m working on one now, and it’s all over the place. I’ve decided just to roll with all of the parts I’m working with and ‘murder’ the ones that don’t work.

Reader 1

Ooh I’m starting to live that word murder

Reader 2

What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

Or your favorite part of the story to write?

Robin Alexander

Reader 1, of course, we mean it in the most loving way. LOL!

Reader 2, When I open up a blank page and my imagination takes off.

Reader 2

Ooh, good answer! That’s a great feeling.

Robin Alexander

It really is

Reader 1

My favourite part is ….. The End

Robin Alexander

I love all parts of writing…except for editing. LOL!

LMAO! Reader 1

Reader 5

I’m hoping once I get my laptop I will be able to get back to my story i have like 3 on my head as well

Reader 1

Editors are rumoured to be one step removed from the devil

Reader 5

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Robin Alexander

I make a million mistakes when I’m writing because I’m watching the story play in my head like a movie.


Murder is apparently my favorite

Oh my stories do that too! Movie playing in my head I mean

Robin Alexander

Reader 5. The endings. I’m never happy with any of the endings I’ve written.

Reader 5

Yeah I can see that…I always want more! Like Just Jorie I wanted more along with Rusty Logic and The Last of the Reader 1dens

Reader 1

Do you carry a note book and write down funny things you hear or have you the book 1001 jokes sat by your computer?

Robin Alexander

Reader 1. I love my editors. Those precious women put up with a lot out of me. I have a comma problem. I want to put them everywhere they don’t belong.

Reader 1

I do love me some commas

Reader 6

I was literally having a comma conversation on fb at the start of this chat


Reader 1

Or should that be.. I do, love me, some, commas?

Reader 6

and I do love deleting your extra commas lol

(I do it to myself constantly too)

Reader 1

You remove (chin wobble) my commas?

Robin Alexander

Reader 1, I will write things on scrap paper, my hand and in the notes on my phone. That usually happens when I’m talking to my sister, or my daughter walks through the room. She often looks at me and says, “You’re so weird. I love you.” Then I tell her the apple didn’t fall far from the wacky tree.

Reader 6


wacky parents are the best

Robin Alexander

LOL @ Reader 1 and Reader 6.

Reader 2

We’re a little bit past the hour, don’t want to take up too much of Robin’s evening – anybody have any last minute questions you’re dying to ask? 

Reader 1

Does your editor let you keep your commas?

I could chat to you all night @Robin Alexander you’re fab. Thank you

Reader 6

I’m looking forward to the next audiobook

Robin Alexander

Reader 1. Oh Hell no. LMAO! Half of my commas are deleted or put somewhere else.

Thank you Reader 5!

Reader 5

Where’d you get the idea for Last of the Reader 1dens?

Reader 1

The home for elderly and retired commas

Robin Alexander

Reader 5. I passed an old house that looked creepy and I wanted to write a story about it. My second attempt to combine the spooky and the funny.

Reader 6


Reader 5

Very nice!

Robin Alexander

I want to thank all of you for making me feel at home here…

Reader 6

Thanks for stopping by

Reader 2

And we thank you for chatting with us!

Reader 1

Thank you Robin

Reader 4

Can’t believe time is up already, lol. This is my first book club and I really enjoyed it!

Reader 5

Your welcome to drop in anytime

Robin Alexander

Big thanks to Reader 2 for inviting me. It was an honor! Y’all are a great group, and I hope I get the luxury of time, so I can read your books.

Reader 2

I hope so too – books are soul food and I very much enjoyed Just Jorie

Robin Alexander

Now, I must go because I was just informed my house will be used for some sort of family meeting.

Thank you so much Reader 2!

Reader 6

good luck with the family

Reader 1


Reader 2

Thank you, have a good night!

Robin Alexander

Thank you Reader 6. I’m gonna need it because I made chilli today…I’ll bow out before I make jokes about them eating it and killing me and my cats.

Reader 8

Have a wonderful night!!! Thank you!

Robin Alexander

Big love to you all!

Reader 5

Bye Robin! Have a good Night!

Reader 2

That was a perfect Grams/Coleen thought to end on

Robin Alexander

LMAO! Reader 2!

Sneak Peek: Cider & Chill

He wants to explore my pumpkin patch…

Cider & Chill is a steamy romantic comedy novella and book two in the Holiday Valley series of standalone holiday romances. If you love a cozy small town atmosphere, hot apple cider and sizzling chemistry, you’ll love this story – available now on Amazon.

Read the first chapter below.

As busy as the cider stand is today, you’d think apples were going out of style.

It’s November first and my family’s seasonal business – a pumpkin patch and cider stand duo – usually starts to wind down after Halloween. We do a good gourd business in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, but as the air turns colder and the leaves begin to blanket the ground, people stop buying pumpkins in favor of more wintery fare.

That’s what happens most years, anyway. This year, it seems like the influx of tourists who have been coming to Holiday Valley in droves lately are determined to buy every last pumpkin in the patch.

That’s perfectly fine with me – the more profitable I can make my little piece of the Morton family’s seasonal business empire, the easier it will be to convince my parents that I’ve got what it takes to run the whole thing when they retire next year.

Right now, I’m not doing a particularly admirable job. I’m whipping up hot apple ciders as fast as I can, but there’s a line of at least two dozen people forming in front of the cider stand, and on the other side of the gravel parking lot, I can see another six or seven people lugging huge pumpkins over to the unattended check-out register at the edge of the pumpkin patch.

Today was a hell of a day to be shorthanded, but my only ‘employee’ is my sixteen-year-old cousin, Jenny, whose high school soccer games take priority over working for me on a volunteer basis. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.

“Here you go,” I say as I pass a hot apple cider across the counter to a waiting customer. “Enjoy!”

My next customer steps up and flips a strand of dark hair out of his eyes, giving me a slightly crooked smile. He’s tall, dressed in an expensive-looking jacket, and his rich brown eyes have a certain brooding quality about them that make me momentarily forget my line.

I’ve said it at least ten thousand times since I started working the cider stand in high school, and yet, the words elude me. Hi, what can I get for you? I’m not normally this flustered – especially not on the job – and when that little half-smile deepens into a smirk, I blame my muteness on the stress of the day.

It’s too much trying to manage two lines of customers with no help, and I’m clearly cracking up.

“Hi,” I finally manage, shaking the cobwebs off my brain. “How can I get you?”

Oh God. I see this handsome customer’s canines as he grins at me and I consider just melting right into the plywood floor of the cider stand. How can I help you had melded with what can I get for you and become something that just might be my downfall.

I grab a cup from the stack to my left and start preparing an apple cider before he can even place his order – it’s either that or die of embarrassment. “Hot apple cider?”

“Sounds great,” he says. He’s studying me carefully as I fill the cup from the big carafe on the counter.

Definitely a tourist – Holiday Valley is home to about 5,000 year-round residents and in my 25 years, I’ve come to think of most of them as my extended family. I can tell by the designer jacket that he’s no townie – I’m pretty sure that plaid lining is Burberry. What is that, a thousand-dollar coat? Damn.

“Whipped cream?” I ask.

“Please,” he answers. He’s got a neatly trimmed beard and when I bend down to retrieve the whipped cream from the mini-fridge below the counter, I catch a whiff of his aftershave – spicy and warm. Yummy.

While I carefully swirl whipped cream on top of his cider, I ask, “Are you on vacation?”

I make small talk with all of my customers. A lot of people think it’s a schtick – a gimmick to make the tourists feel welcome – but the truth is that I’m a little bit nosy. I’ve spent most of my life in this town and living vicariously through the tourists that come through here is the next-best thing to seeing the world for myself.

Plus, it really does help the business. People love talking about themselves and they’re usually more than happy to tell me where they’re from and what their lives back home are like. Apparently, working a cider stand is a family-friendly version of being a bartender. If you open up the lines of communication, people confide in you.

That’s why I’m not expecting the snort that Mr. Burberry gives me. “Vacation? Not exactly.”

I cock my head to the side. “Are you here to stay then?”

Be still, my heart.

“God, no,” he says. “I’m hoping to leave as soon as possible.”

Now I’m a little taken aback. I may have a slight case of travel envy, but I love this kitschy little town with all my heart.

“Are you not enjoying your stay in Holiday Valley?” I ask as I put the cup down on the counter and slide it across to him. I give it a little too much English and sticky, hot cider sloshes over the rim, hitting the counter and splashing in his direction.

He jumps back but it’s too late to avoid the spatter.

“Oh, shit,” I say. I look at him with horror – have I just made a powerful Yelp enemy? “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay,” he says, grabbing a napkin from the dispenser on the counter.

“Here,” I say, taking another one and wetting it with a water bottle behind the counter. “Let me.”

I rush around the end of the cider stand and start blotting his jacket with the damp napkin while he protests that it’s not a big deal. Finally, he takes me by the hands to still my frantic cleaning attempts and I look up into his eyes.

His aftershave is even more potent now, when I’m just inches from him. I spend all day in a pumpkin patch where fallen leaves mix with sticky, fresh cider. It’s one of my favorite smells in the world – the scent of autumn – but the way his spicy aftershave mixes with the natural earthiness of his skin is quickly moving into the top of my mental charts.

My core grows warm as he looks me in the eyes and says, “Really, it’s fine.”

“Okay,” I breathe.

And then suddenly my mother materializes out of thin air and puts a hand on each of our shoulders. “Hannah!” she exclaims, “Are you spilling things on our customers?” Before I have a chance to answer, she adds, “You know the pumpkin patch line is getting out of control, right?”

I look across the parking lot, where the line has ballooned to about ten unhappy-looking people. Shit.

“Mom,” I say, giving Mr. Burberry an apologetic smile, then going back into the cider stand. “What are you doing here?”

“Your dad and I are on our way to the farmer’s market to pick up some fresh baked bread for dinner tonight,” she says. “We figured we’d make a pit stop and see how you’re doing. Busy today, huh?”

“Yeah,” I say, gritting my teeth slightly. Of course they couldn’t drop in on me on any other day – like when Jenny was here to help, or a day that wasn’t so unexpectedly swamped with customers. Mr. Burberry tries to hand me cash for the cider but I wave him off. “Free of charge. Sorry for the mess.”

My mom comes into the cider stand and squeezes into the small space behind the counter, jostling me and keeping me from getting lost in those brooding eyes again.

“It’s really not a big deal,” he insists. “I assume Holiday Valley has a dry cleaner?”

“Yes, of course,” I say. I’m about to offer to pick up the bill for that when my mom crouches down in front of me and I nearly lose my footing. I ask her, “What on earth are you doing?”

“I know it’s around here somewhere,” she mutters, mostly to herself.

I look at the line growing in front of me and the line at the pumpkin patch, then at my mother rummaging around in the storage space beneath the counter. And I look at the tall, dark and handsome man who smells like warm spices and apple cider. He’s smiling that slightly crooked smile, amused at the color rising into my cheeks along with my frustration.

I roll my eyes and snatch the five-dollar bill out of his hand, saying, “I hope you enjoy your time in Holiday Valley.”

“Maybe I will after all,” he says, and gives me a quick wink.

My belly floods with warmth again, but then he’s stepping aside and an impatient family of four steps up to the counter wanting the works – whipped cream, caramel drizzle, chocolate shavings, sprinkles. Load ‘em up!

I’m halfway through making the order, trying to work fast so I can whittle down the line, when my mom says, “A-ha!” and pops up, almost tipping an entire cup of piping hot cider onto herself.

“What are you looking for?” I ask, exasperated. I hear a little chuckle and look up – Mr. Burberry is standing a few feet away from the stand, sipping his cider and enjoying the spectacle. I shake my head at him, but I can’t help being at least a little amused – this must look like a Three Stooges skit to him.

Well, two Stooges, anyway.

“This!” my mom says, holding up the red and white Help Wanted sign that I’d taken the liberty of shoving beneath the counter two weeks ago. “I told you that you needed help. Your poor dad’s ringing people out on his day off.”

I look over at the pumpkin patch line and see that she’s right – at least he’s got the line moving, though. I slide the fully-loaded ciders across the counter to a pair of kids who will probably be bouncing off the walls for hours from all that sugar, and take a twenty from their dad. Then I tell my mom, “I’ve got Jenny.”

“She’s at her soccer game,” my mom points out. “We talked about this – you need real, paid help. Look at these lines, Hannah – business is booming and you can afford an assistant.”

I grumble as I take the next person’s order. My mom is right – I can afford it financially, but the last thing I want is an assistant. The last person I hired didn’t exactly work out and I’m not eager to go down that road again.

Besides, if I can’t even run a simple pick-your-own pumpkin patch and a little cider stand on my own, how will I prove I’m capable of running the whole Morton family empire? Besides the pumpkin patch, we’ve got a Christmas tree farm that’ll open up for business in a couple of weeks, a floral shop that does a mean Valentine’s and wedding season business, and a strawberry field that’s very popular in the summer.

I want to claim my birthright when my parents retire, but I’ve got a history of messing things up. If they don’t think I can handle it, they’re going to sell the whole company and let a stranger run it. I can think of nothing worse.

“I’ll think about it,” I tell my mom.

“What’s to think about?” she asks. “Just hire someone. Now, do you have some tape around here somewhere?”

She’s looking for a way to stick the sign to the front of the cider stand when Mr. Burberry steps forward and surprises us both.

“No need,” he says. He holds his hand out to me across the counter and gives me another one of those core-melting half-smiles as he says, “My name is Roman Laurentis and I’d love to make cider with you.”

My mouth drops open for the second time this afternoon.

Keep reading on Amazon…

Lesfic Book Club: Reservations of the Heart

For our October meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed TB Markinson’s novel, Reservations of the Heart. 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

I usually just drink it when I have a headache, which only perpetuates more headaches but

Anyway… it’s book club time. Thanks for joining us, TB

TB Markinson

Thanks for the invite!

Reader 2

Book club time

Reader 1

Basically how it usually goes is just a ton of questions for the next hour and you can either respond in-line or thread your responses, whichever way is easier for you

What did everybody think of Reservations of the Heart?

Reader 3

Loved it.

Reader 2

I loved it couldn’t put it down… May have gotten in trouble at work for reading 

TB Markinson

I hope not serious trouble. I used to listen to audiobooks at my last desk job. Not sure they figured it out, though.

Reader 1

Audiobooks should definitely be allowed – multitasking

Reader 2

No was told to put my phone in the locker for the rest of shift

Reader 4

Absolutely adored it

TB Markinson

My apologies for the reprimand.

Reader 2 

It’s all good lol thanks for writing such an addictive book

TB Markinson 

Aw, thanks for saying that.

The older I get I can’t multitask as much. Oddly, I’ve been more productive.

Reader 1 

I’ve heard this in theory, now if I could only start single-tasking to figure out if it’s true for me too

TB Markinson 

It’s takes time getting used to it.

Reader 4

Ok. Standard question out of the way. Did you plot this one out scene by scene, or how did you write it? 

TB Markinson

A little bit of both. I used to never plot, but I’ve started doing some plotting beforehand.

Reader 1 

What made you want to switch?

Reader 4

What was your favorite part to write?

Reader 2

Which of the characters were your favorite to write

TB Markinson

Oh, gosh, I really enjoyed the crazy office stuff. I used to have Aurora’s job and crazy stuff happened.

Reader 1

Was Dr. Howie a “name changed to protect the innocent” situation?

TB Markinson

As for switching from pantsing to sorta plotting, I have a crazy work schedule and I had to speed up the writing parts. It helps to know sorta what’s going on.

Dr. Howie is a mixture of several doctors I encountered.

As for my favorite characters, I always like the stubborn ones and both leading ladies fall into that category.

Reader 2

Yes they do lol

Reader 4

What was your biggest inspiration for this novel, specifically?

TB Markinson

Originally, I started this novel thinking I would use a penname since it’s different from my usual books. My inspiration was writing a standalone, not a series. And, I just returned to Boston and a lot of memories from my previous job came back.

Reader 4

What made you decide to stick with this name?

TB Markinson

When I started thinking of all the work to build a new newsletter, website, and social media, it didn’t make a lot of sense. I will say, thinking it would be under a different name freed me some while writing. Not having expectations. I really enjoyed that aspect.

Reader 1

Was it just the standalone aspect that had you thinking about a different pen name? I thought it read pretty quintessentially TB Markinson

TB Markinson

Is it? The standalone was part of it. Also, it’s in third person with switching POV.

Reader 1

I think you have a particular style with your characters and how they see the world. Not sure I could put my finger on exactly how, but I could probably pick out one of your books by tone

Reader 4

Did you find it harder to write with those differences?

TB Markinson

The switching POV takes some getting used to, but I liked digging into both heads of the leading ladies. I like to know what makes them tick.

Reader 1

Curious if everybody else feels that way, can you pick out your favorite authors if you were just given the book with no name?

Reader 2 

I feel like I would be able to but I’m unsure of my ability lol

Reader 1 

Haha yeah, maybe like 75% certainty

Reader 2 

Right hahaha

Reader 4 

It really depends  …

Reader 5 

I could pick out your books no matter the pen name…maybe a few others

TB Markinson

I think with some authors I could pick them out. Like Clare Lydon’s British Rom-Com wit.

Reader 4 

Yes! Some authors have a certain feel.

Reader 1

Did you relate to Aurora or Stella more, or both equally?

 (And that question to everybody else, too – are you an Aurora or a Stella?)

Reader 2 

Definitely a Stella

Reader 5 

Combination of both

TB Markinson

Oh gosh, that’s always hard for me to answer. I never base a character on myself or on one particular person. They’re a mesh of everything.

Given I’m closer in age to Stella, I probably relate to her more.

Reader 3

What did you have the most fun with when writing this book?

TB Markinson

I love writing dialogue. That’s always my favorite part.

Reader 5

Hey T.B I’m super late, just woke up couldn’t sleep last night for nothing…..I absolutely loved this book and I felt I could relate a lot to both Stella and Aurora!

TB Markinson

Aw, thanks!

Reader 1

Do you prefer to write with background noise or silence?

TB Markinson

Music. I can’t write in cafes, but I always listen to music in my office.

Reader 5

I do have to ask you….When writing Stella and Aurora was it easy to switch the POV. How do you determine whose POV to write at which time?

Reader 4

I was gonna ask, when you did a little plotting for this one, was it about who would talk when? Or was it planning specific things within the novel ?

TB Markinson

When I started, I knew each chapter would switch. And usually the switch happened when I needed the other character to react. It’s kinda fun to see both sides. How simple things are interpreted differently and then cause problems. Everyone brings in their own experiences to all situations. And that distorts their perceptions and actions.

Reader 4 

Which is one of the reasons why I adore your novels. The way your characters act and react to others is always fascinating and captivating.  I read Claudia Must Die rapid fire (in 3 hours or so).

Reader 5 

That’s the other book I’m dying to read! I might just have to buy it too!

Reader 4 

Read it!!! I loved it  buy it or It’s on KU.

Reader 5 

I gave up KU at the moment…..

TB Markinson

When I plotted, I knew the POV of each chapter and the thing that had to happen. I didn’t plot out how to get to that one thing, though.

Reader 1

Do you have a favorite part of a book (or favorite part of the romance) to write?

TB Markinson

Oh geez. Each romance has an arc to it. And I like all the parts. The Meet Cute. Falling in love. The black moment. And then the HEA. It’s hard to pinpoint which one I like the most. Depends on my mood, I think.

Reader 3

What gave you the most trouble when doing research for this book?

TB Markinson

When going to a Red Sox game to refresh my memory, the weather was complete shite. Rain and so cold. I really didn’t enjoy that day.

As for the medical school aspect, I worked at one for over 3 years.

Reader 4

Whoa. Cooooool

Reader 6

Oh no. I’m late. The clocks have gone forward here and didn’t figure that in. Hi TB. As a very low level manager, I could totally relate to some of the ‘managing people’ issues Aurora has. You sound like you have some experience in this area?! Any specifics that made it into the book?

Reader 4

Would you change anything from this novel (or another), if you could?

TB Markinson

Oh, I’m trying to remember the office shenanigans that I included and the ones that ended up on the cutting room floor. I penned the majority of ROH last January. The missing alcohol actually happened, but there was a twist in real life, which I probably shouldn’t share. I wasn’t the employee in charge of that snafu.

I’m sure when I proof the audio, I’ll cringe a lot. There’s always a way to improve a story. Change word choices. Add a different twist. But there’s no way to make a story perfect. I live by the mantra one of my teachers told me: A story is never done. There are only deadlines.

Reader 4

As a wannabe author, I can completely understand this. As a fan, I think you might be incorrect. 

Reader 5

Yes love that saying!

Reader 1

Love that mantra

Do you have a release date for the audio yet?

Reader 2

I love that mantra

Reader 3

If Mackenzie could be a superheroine who fights villains while riding dinosaurs, which dinosaur would she pick to ride?

TB Markinson

I haven’t had time to work on the audio yet. I need to contact some narrators to see who has time in their schedules. There’s always a long to-do list for all projects.

Reader 1

Oh gotcha, thought you meant it was pending. Yes, those to-do lists never end.

Could you talk a little about your Village Romance series? What was it like collaborating with Harper Bliss and Clare Lydon?

TB Markinson

The first dinosaur that came to mind was T-Rex, but I don’t think Kenzie would limit herself with just one choice.

Reader 3

I would expect her to say, “All of them!”

TB Markinson

Working with Harper and Clare was a blast. We started the collab by taking a road trip through the Cotswolds last March. Harper’s Mrs drove the minivan. We all worked closely to ensure we were staying as consistent as possible, meaning we read first drafts and that always makes me nervous. Although, when Harper and I cowrote Life in Bits, she read my first draft as well. Sending Harper Bliss a sex scene nearly caused my heart to stop.

Reader 1 

Haha I bet!

I love the writer road trip – sounds like a dream

Reader 4 


Reader 2 

Ditto agreed

TB Markinson 

It was fun and we popped into so many quaint pubs. I miss living in the UK.

Reader 2 

Sounds like a dream

Reader 4 

Sounds perfect to me.

Reader 2

Was the Anne of green gables reference just a toss in or were their last names chosen for that reason?

Did that make sense

TB Markinson

The Anne of Green Gables came to me quite early. It was my favorite TV series when I was a kid. It was my way of paying tribute.

Reader 5

I really loved that.

Reader 2

I thought it was really cool its my favorite book series of all time so to see it was great

Reader 1

One of my faves too

Who’s your favorite author, either lesfic or in general?

TB Markinson

Just one?

Reader 2


Reader 1 

That’s fair, it was a hardball question

Reader 5 

Right it’s hard to limit greatness to just one

Reader 6

Any more collaborations in the pipeline?

Reader 5

So I’ve always wanted to see my name in a book…. So thank you for that

TB Markinson

Yes, a novel I cowrote with Miranda MacLeod is coming out in November. Clare and I are planning to cowrite a book in 2020.

Reader 4

With Miranda MacLeod???

TB Markinson

My answers for favorite authors always disappoints people.

Reader 1 

Feel free to pass, although now I’m curious why it’s a disappointment

Reader 4

Not possible.

Reader 2

Try us

TB Markinson

Yep. Miranda and I go way back. To the 6th grade.

Reader 4

6th grade??? THAT IS SO COOOOL

Reader 1

That’s awesome

Reader 5

Just say them. Everyone has there own opinions who the better authors are so no judgement

TB Markinson

Charles Dickens. John Steinbeck. Ernest Hemmingway. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Jane Austen–she’s the one people prefer.

Reader 5

Very nice!

Reader 2

I’m down with your choices very nice

Reader 4

I can dig most of that. There are almost no wrong answers when it comes to that question.

Reader 1

Same, the classics are classics for a reason!

Reader 2

Alright yall wife is saying it’s bed time night yall

Reader 1

Night Reader 2!

And we’re at the top of the hour, any last-minute questions for TB?

TB Markinson

Good night, Reader 2. Thanks for chatting.

Reader 5

Night Reader 2!

TB Markinson

I’m a historian, so the classics speak to me on many levels.

Reader 4 

I love this. I am, too.

TB Markinson 

I always say history is the greatest story ever told.

Reader 4 

…any chance of an historical fiction novel on the future??

TB Markinson 

I wouldn’t stop researching to write it.

Reader 4 

I can understand that. I had a similar issue for my senior seminar paper.

Reader 2

Thanks for writing such an amazing story @TB Markinson

TB Markinson

Aw, thanks for saying that.

Reader 3

What kinds of stories do you think you would never write?

Reader 5

Yes I really loved Reservations of the Heart!! It was beautifully written. And the first book I’ve finished on over a month

TB Markinson

I don’t know if there is a story I wouldn’t write if the muse pulled me in a certain direction. I do avoid historical fiction, simply because I love the research aspect too much.

Thanks so much, Reader 5!

Reader 1

Well, thank you so much for chatting with us, TB

Loved Reservations and definitely looking forward to all those collabs on the horizon

TB Markinson

Thanks for having me. I appreciate the support.

Reader 4

Thank you for joining us!!

And for writing it.

TB Markinson

My pleasure, Peri.

Reader 5

You are welcome! Thank you for having amazing stories you share to the world!!

TB Markinson

Aw, thanks. I’m always so nervous when I release a new book.