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

Right?????

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

nice

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

Hi

Reader 2

Woo hoo, welcome!

Reader 3

Welcome!

Reader 4

Hey

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?

READER 7

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!

READER 7

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.

READER 7

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

READER 7

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 READER 7.

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!

READER 7

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?

READER 7

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

lol

(or am i confused)

Reader 1

Well it could imply it

But it wasn’t intended

READER 7

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?

READER 7

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

READER 7

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

lol

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

Nice!

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

Nice

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?

READER 7

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

READER 7

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.

LOL True READER 7!

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.

READER 7

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

Lol

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

lol

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

Cool

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

bye

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 

Agreed

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

Lol

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.

Lesfic Book Club: Who’d Have Thought

For our September meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed G Benson’s novel, Who’d Have Thought. 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

G Benson

I just got in! Hi all!

Reader 1

Yay

Reader 2

Ah, shoot. Well, you’ve always got the transcript, Reader 1

Reader 5

Hi

Reader 2

Hello! Thanks for joining us!

Reader 3

Hello.

Reader 4

Hi there

Reader 5

Do we call you G?

G Benson

Also please…no use of the Q word or Hayden won’t speak to any of you

Gabby is fine!

A fellow Aussie nicknamed me Benno, if you’re so inclined haha

Reader 6

Hey Gabby! Nice to have you here!

Reader 5

I have read Who’d have thought so many times, it’s my joint favourite book ever

Reader 7

Hello everyone

G Benson

hi @Reader 6 ! Thank you all for having me!

Reader 5

But….. One question, when did Sam start falling for Hayden. Christmas Eve, visiting her mom?

Reader 3

My first question: Why is Sam so awesome?

G Benson

This is the first time I’ve used slack so sorry if I’m a bit slow

Reader 3

And second question: Why did it take so long for Hayden to realize how awesome Sam was?

G Benson

@Reader 5 before I answer this, I would LOVE to know when everyone else thinks Sam started to fall for Hayden and why in that moment

or is that a cheat answer from me?

Reader 5

Cheat answer

G Benson

@Reader 3 Sam is so awesome because she is Sam and is never anyone else but Sam hehe

Reader 5

I’ll show you mine if you show me yours

Reader 3

It’s not a cheat if you still give your answer in the end.

G Benson

@Reader 3 it took Sam so long to realise because Hayden is a bit if a stubborn fool

also my cat is trying to sit on my keyboard so all typos are his fault

Reader 3

Also, I really loved the epilogue.

Reader 5

I think it was when she got hurt by her mom and Sam was cleaning her lip

Reader 2

Very convenient excuse

G Benson

Wait I meant it took Hayden so long to realise!

Reader 6

Lol I haven’t read the book all the way. I’ve been so busy with work I haven’t read much lately but I love it so far and don’t want to miss this conversation been trying to get you here for months lol

G Benson

Can’t blame that one on me cat…

Oh no @Reader 6 you’ll get so many spoilers

Reader 5

So……. when was it??

PLease

Please even

Reader 6

I’m good. I don’t mind the spoilers

Reader 5

Reader 6, I’ll wipe your memory after this like they do in men in black

Reader 1

What i love about fake relationships is seeing who breaks first and admits feelings

G Benson

@Reader 5 I promise an answer when I hear when others thing it happened hehe

Reader 6

Thank you @Reader 5

Reader 5

okaaaaaay

Is the keyboard warrior who you based Frank on?

G Benson

@Reader 1 that is a fantastic part of it all. As an author sometimes it isn’t clear who’ll break first even to you

Reader 3

I wouldn’t be surprised if she liked her even before they arranged the whole fake marriage.

Reader 6

Same Reader 1! I always bet my self how long each will break first

Reader 8

Not a question but I wanted to say I thought you wrote very movingly about dementia. It’s such an awful disease.

G Benson

The keyboard warrior isn’t my Frank inspiration, he’s far too social! My Frank inspiration is my lovely now 10 year old guy who was on the street for 3 years before we adopted him. But since WHT was released he’s softened into a complete lap cat so Frank lives on alone as the soul grumper

Reader 1

So you didn’t know until you wrote it?

Reader 3

Sam seems to have been aware of Hayden well before their first meeting after connecting online.

G Benson

@Reader 8 thank you for that feedback! That was a lot of research and experience with my job, but also a lot of my own heart into that story as my grandmother had alzheimers. I wanted it to ring true very much

Reader 5

I took away the fact that the older version of people is not who they will be remembering. That’s not something I’d thought of. My auntie has late stage alzheimers

G Benson

@Reader 1 I’m a terrible pantser who knows nothing until I write it. I often write myself into a wall and have to restart storylines because of it

Reader 1

Lol same @G Benson

Reader 9

I’m here yall my bad I lost track of time

Reader 5

Don’t I know it Reader 1

Kidding

Have we had enough answers yet @G Benson

Reader 10

2 of my grandparents had it. And my father will (in 30 years, I hope). It was definitely well researched and well written.

Reader 1

One thing I wonder is about Sam. I read her as very likely on the autism spectrum. Was that in your mind as a possibility?

Reader 9 

Thank you some one else saw that too I thought I was trippin

Reader 5 

She’s very anal

Reader 3

I had wondered as well.

Reader 5 

Definitely OCD

G Benson 

Oh we can thread! I need to learn slack

should I stop tagging and thread instead?

Reader 11 

When I described the book to my wife, I made the same observation (while telling her that it wasn’t explicitly stated in the book) 

Reader 5 

Cooeeeee

Reader 12 

or maybe INTJ

Reader 1 

Tagging is fine

Reader 5

I tried  to twitter you this question months and months ago….and here I am still waiting…..

Reader 6

I might have to catch the reread damn working a business is hard and I have to take a call. But I just wanted to say I read flinging it first and I absolutely loved it to pieces. Your writing is amazing !!!

G Benson 

So glad you liked Flinging It thank you!

Reader 6 

I’m usually not one for affairs but you did it so well…and the situation of pour Cora I can definitely relate to the abuse she was going through. It sucks to feel powerless like she did. And to work with that person is even worse. I was really impressed with the whole thing!!

G Benson 

I never thought I’d write an affair book but these things are never black and white, and for poor Cora it was so far from it

@Reader 1 I’ve had this questions a lot and the answer is definitively yes. I wrote Sam and Sam happened to be on the autism spectrum, it wasn’t something I intentionally wrote. When I realised she was, it was when a friend reading it over before publication pointed it out and it was too late to have a sensitivity reader go over it, or even go through and put it in the book in a way that meant people didn’t have to ask, and without having a sensitivity read I was hesitant to slot it in at the end post edits. But yes, Sam is definitely on the spectrum

Reader 1

A few of us are on the spectrum

I think it’s safe to own it

Reader 5

Just because it’s not explicitly stated doesn’t mean it can’t be so

Reader 9 

Sooo true

G Benson 

So true and totally agree! Just when it comes to something involving a minority group, I like to have a sensitivity reader involved as I would hate to unintentionally write something harmful, but yes, even thought it’s not stated, it is true

Reader 1

Plus older women are rarely diagnosed

She might not have thought about it

Reader 5

Still waiting Gabby, be my bedtime soon here in the UK,,, just sayin

G Benson

That’s true Reader 1, girls and women are often not diagnosed, and sam is definitely on the spectrum

Reader 5

I want me a Sam, she was like my dream woman

G Benson

So, when did Sam start to fall?

Reader 5

……….

Reader 1

Lol

G Benson

Sam had a soft spot for Hayden from the start

she all but says as much

Reader 1

Totally

Reader 3

Knew it.

Reader 1

I mean how quickly she warms to her quirkiness

G Benson

So for Sam, it was less a moment of falling and more a steady, soft descent until “thump” feelings

Reader 5

Yeah when she first looked back and saw her watching them wheel, the trolley out

Reader 1

Would sam have ever talked to her without this arrangement? Or is work too compartmentalized?

Reader 5

And Hayden hates her and says as much – ouch

Reader 3

And all the mentions of being aware of her for quite some time. Noticing her in med school. Noting her when she first saw her working as a nurse.

G Benson

I don’t think Sam would ever have approached her about the arrangement, work, to Sam, was 100% compartmentalised

I think she came close to a heart attack when someone she knew walked into that coffee shop

@Reader 5 does that satisfy your question?

Reader 3

Probably even more so that it was Hayden.

G Benson

@Reader 3 exactly! Oh no someone I know….oh no, someone I think is very, very cute and not only that but very competent

Reader 5

Yours was the first non binary character book I’ve read.

Reader 9

On another note where did the inspiration come from for luce to be non binary

G Benson

Two important things on Sam’s checklist of “am I interested in this person”

Reader 5

Satisfy my question……. welll…… I suppose so

G Benson

@Reader 9 I have many enby friends and it felt so natural to have Hayden’s bestie be enby! And Luce was just so fun to write, they just flowed for me

Reader 9

That’s awesome I love luce as a character they are quite the personality

Reader 5

Luce is a star, she got nearly all the best lines

G Benson

Haha if you want more specifics @Reader 5 I can say that when they were at Hayden’s families Sam’s soft descent suffered a trip that was very akin to a fall

Reader 5

Sorry threy

thye

they

argh my keyboard

hates me

G Benson

Luce is an absolute crack up

Reader 5

Thanks

I knew when she wiped her lip there were genuine feelings there

Reader 3

I didn’t really understand much about what it meant to be non-binary until recently. I kind of knew, but kind of didn’t.

Reader 5

I’m so ignorant I didn’t spot the they bit at first, ten thought it was a typo…. then finally twigged

Reader 3

I have a much clearer picture now.

Reader 1

Hahaha

Reader 11

How did you come up with the inheritance idea and how Sam planned to spend it? (That really helped me actually like the fake wedding idea that I had only tolerated earlier)

G Benson

I think that’s such a great thing about fiction, we can introduce ourselves and each other to so many new and wonderful things and learn so much compassion through it

Reader 3

If only Sam’s parents knew anything about compassion.

Reader 5

The way you wrote them I really wanted to reach thru the page, grab their necks and throttle them

Reader 9 

Took the words right out of my mouth

G Benson 

Same to be honest

I got angry when I was writing and had to take a break

Reader 9 

They are just so.. Horrible

Reader 5 

As a mother I have no comprehension of how they could act like that. I know its a book but it’s real life too, I’d never heard of conversion therapy and was horrified such a thing existed

Reader 4

I’m back, had to do a few things  was scrolling through what has been said, i don’t think it’s when Sam had feelings, i think more when Hayden did, because hated her

G Benson

@Reader 11 that’s a great question, because it took me a while to figure out! I wrote WHT for Nano (national novel writing a month, where writers live of coffee and try write an entire novel in four weeks) and as I’m a pantser, I just went “right, okay, fake relationship, they can be fun, two people who work together cause I love me that in a hospital setting, and oooo, one doesn’t really like the other” and I got part way and was like…but why the fake marriage? And the first thing I thought of was I wanted it to be unusual, so I started from the angle of wanting to get back at homophobic family, and how that could look…and then the only way a character like Sam would go about it was the way she did. Just dating a woman to annoy them wouldn’t be solid enough a reason for fake marriage. Plus, if I’d only gone with that angle we would have had to see Sam interacting with her family more and they were poo and I didn’t want to do that

Reader 2

When you’re not working on a NaNo project, how long does it usually take you to get through a draft?

READER 13

Not gonna be able to participate but just stopping in to say hi

G Benson

Even with Nano, I don’t really get to finish as I’m notorious for writing super long manuscripts…oops

My first took me about a year over all

My second something ridiculous like 6 weeks, I lived and breathed caffeine

My third 6 months

And WHT 8 weeks

BUT that’s like, messy draft, then it’s going back and revising every sentence and story line and looking at what beta readers have said, then the editing starts (enter headache)

Reader 1

All while working full time?

Reader 9

Wow

Reader 4 

No kidding, wow

G Benson 

I’m definitely no the norm! I can sit hyperfocused for two hours and pump out words, but then not write anything for six months once it’s finished

READER 13

What do you do for work? I work 2 full time jobs while trying to write so I understand that

G Benson

The last I was part time but the others full time! It’s why I work so well with Nano, i have to write every day

Reader 3

Is it weird that the most positive and healthy portrayals of autistic characters I have found have been in lesfic?

At times there may be a detail or two missing from the author’s portrayal of autistic characters, but their portrayals are fairly accurate and genuine and don’t leave me feeling offended or upset in any way.

Unlike with other autistic characters outside of lesfic.

G Benson

I teach English as a foreign language

Reader 9 

That’s pretty cool

Reader 5 

English is a foreign language within itself

I often struggle to speak it and to type it…. well there is no hope

G Benson 

Its a horrendous language

my favourite joke is that English isn’t a language, it’s three other languages wearing a trench coat

Reader 5

So you edit after the beta readers? Do they see first, second draft?

READER 13

Ok gtg

Gtg, Gabby it was a pleasure meeting you. Hopefully we can have you back so I can actually converse with you

G Benson

I tend to send every few chapters to beta readers, but only two suffer that, as they know it’s the messy, not even up to being called first draft version

The others I work with get the first draft

Reader 5

Reader 1, are you reading this? Can we do this?

Reader 2

Do you edit as you go then, take the betas’ comments into account once they read those chapters?

Reader 1

What send out every few chapters? Of course

Reader 5

Nooooooooo

Reader 1

Lol

Reader 5

Send out after first draft

Like the first chapter because I’m lazy and don’t want to do more work than is necessary

G Benson

@Reader 2 I tend to take them into account as I go, as I’m a pantser, their comments can catch me up before I write myself into a wall

Reader 2

Sounds like a good strategy!

So one of my favorite questions to ask is what’s your favorite part of the romance to write?

G Benson

@Reader 2 ooo this is a fun question and one I’ve never thought about

Hmm

I love writing flirty banter

At the start, before its a thing, and right after they’ve had a first kiss/a moment that confirms their both interested, that flirty banter then is such fun to write

Reader 5

In all your books, who is the character most like yourself?

G Benson

What’s everyone’s favourite part of a romance to read?

Reader 2 

I’m gonna have to go with the meet-cute – sets up all the ‘before’ personalities and issues and has the potential for a lot of different creative interpretations

Reader 6 

My favorite part of romance to read is the falling in love

Reader 4

I love the flirty banter

Reader 9

I love the banter right before the first kiss

G Benson

@Reader 5 oh wow thats a terrifying question best made to one of my friends or my wife

Reader 5

The happy epilogue after all the angst is over and done

Go on then ask her for me please?

G Benson

Haha she’s not here! Wait I’ll whattsapp her. if the answer scares me I’ll pretend she’s not online

Reader 5

Ok, which would you most like to sleep with, who would you least like to kiss

Reader 3

I like all the little moments that pull the characters slowly together.

G Benson

It looks like everyone loves flirty banter

Reader 4

And the angst

G Benson

It’s so strange to think of my characters like that because they’re all my little creations

Reader 3

What was the most fun thing to research for this book?

Reader 1

I also love banter and the resolution

Reader 3

The epilogue was great.

G Benson

can I turn that question around and ask who everyone else would least like to kiss? Haha

Reader 5

I like reading the banter but writing the arguments 

G Benson 

I lvoe writing arguments, they’re so snappy

Reader 5 

I’m having so much fun, I broke off writing one now to be here

G Benson 

Then I feel honoured!

Reader 5 

Lol, you haven’t seen my writing. You may just have saved mankind

Reader 6 

Don’t let her foul you!!! She’s amazing when it comes to writing!!

Reader 5 

Aww Reader 6, thanks chick. We need you to read the collaboration book to see what you think so far please

Reader 6 

I’ll let you know when I have the time. I have the little bit that Reader 1 sent me the last time you said and I still haven’t read it. Plus my phone is still acting up and won’t let me in my docs. Been pissing me off!! Ive just been so focused on my business it’s been nuts. But hey I made $100 today in Pre-Claims doing nothing but sitting on my butt haha. I didn’t even read Who’d have thought yet. I’m like on chapter too. Before they meet up. And I’ve been waiting for this book forever! Lol I’m gonna stay up tonight and read this though. I was even late to reading @Reader 2 new book she wrote as Kaylin for its M/F and I’m excited for the series. Scary & Sweet was amazing and just what I needed for that small break. Definitely check it out! But I will find the time here when this month is over. I should be more organized and on a schedule I’m hoping.

Reader 5

You need to chill a little. You’re super busy so don’t worry about beta reading. It’s still only half way thru and there’s a lot to write still. I need to finish Crash Dance as it’s changed loads since you read it. Story is the same just more details. And I have first draft of my 2nd book written which you’re welcome to look at some time in 2022 when you’re not so busy

Reader 6 

It will slow down come October. Maybe, at least I’ll be more organized I hope!!! That’s awesome I’m super excited for when you finally finish it!!!

Reader 5 

Me too, it’s been nearly a year now lol

Reader 6 

Yeah lol thats terribly long though mine will take longer so…I understand

Reader 5 

There’s no rush and when it’s fine it will be the best I can do. Then if it’s rejected I’ll take the hint

Reader 6 

It won’t be! Don’t doubt yourself it gets nowhere. I know from experience. And I just got a bit busier. I officially have a team now!! I signed my first team member last night

Reader 5 

Proud of you!

Jae edited the first chapter of mine and Reader 1’s book. I say edited it was more like ripped to pieces but I learnt some valuable stuff from her

Reader 6 

Yeah I can imagine. Jae is perfect for that !!

Reader 5 

She is very good at it lol

Reader 6 

Awwww!!!

Reader 1

Haden is adorable

G Benson

@Reader 3 most fun to research was marriage law

It was such a bizarre rabbit whole to fall down and it was all US based and being Australian I got super confused, a lot

@Reader 1 an adorable fool (her words, I’m sure)

Reader 1

Shit we get confused too

Reader 2

Do you have a project you’re working on right now, Gabby?

Reader 4

Is Flinging It going to be on audiobook at anytime

G Benson 

I haven’t heard anything about that from my publisher sadly!

Reader 4 

That’s too bad

G Benson

@Reader 2 I actually can finally, after 2 years, say I do! I have about half way into a new manuscript. This one has been like pulling teeth, and will change the “how fast I write a manuscript” answer drastically

Reader 5

Have you ever considered a follow up to WHT like Sam with a baby and nappies to change

Reader 1

And where do you get your ideas in general?

My solution to not having ideas is to hang out with creative and silly writers. I have more snippets from conversations here than anywhere.

G Benson

@Reader 1 I used to write a lot of fanfic, so TV used to inspire me a lot. Now it’s just more, things I want to see wlw getting to do in stories!

@Reader 5 Sam would be such an organised mum

I havent thought of it at all but the image of Hayden, Sam and Frank all coping with a newborn is delightful

Reader 2

I imagine a lot of willful discussions all the way around – I love it

Reader 5

Hmmm, Have you got kids Gabby?  Because an organised mum is only possible if you leave it all to the nanny

G Benson

There would be so many discussions. Those two will never have a problem with communication

Reader 3

I think they’d be coping with things regarding Hayden’s mom as well considering everything.

Reader 5

Yes please then, a sequel Called Who’d Have Them

Reader 14

Stopping by to say hi to a fellow Aussie

G Benson

Haha Sam will try be organised, desperately clinging to the schedule the baby, Hayden, and Frank all refuse to adhere too

WHo’d Have Them hahahaha

Reader 9

Hahahahahh

Reader 6

It be great!!

Reader 5

You have my permission to use that title

G Benson

If it ever happens, I may take you up on that @Reader 5

Reader 5

You’re welcome, I only ask you send me a free book as I gave you not only the title but the story too

G Benson

That sounds like a fair trade

Reader 6

Awww! Lucky!

Reader 5

Bugger, maybe I have undersold myself??

Reader 1

And if you need future autism sensitivity readers you have a few here.

G Benson 

Thank you Reader 1! That’s great of you to offer!

Reader 1 

It’s my pleasure. Doing that now for a debut and it’s great representation and story so far

G Benson 

Its fantastic to hear debuts are utilising sensitivity readers!

Reader 1 

Yes. It’s great that people are taking rep seriously

G Benson

My wife said I’m most like Anna because of my humour apparently…hmmm

Reader 9

Alright yall it’s bed time for me gnight yall @G Benson it has been a pleasure

G Benson

Anna from all the little moments in case you havent read it

Reader 5

I’ve read it

G Benson

@Reader 9 Thanks for chatting! Hope you sleep well

Reader 9

Thanks @G Benson gnight yall

Reader 2

Night Krys!

Reader 5

Night Krys

Reader 4

Goodnifht

Reader 2

Anybody else have questions for Gabby? @Reader 3 I don’t think you’ve asked your traditional oddball one yet have you?

G Benson

OO oddball

My interest is piqued

Reader 3

I’m still thinking of one.

Reader 2

And now I put you on the spot, my bad!

G Benson

I’ll pretend I didn’t read anything about an oddball question

Reader 5

Have you any author mates that you drink wine with and come up with great one liners for your books

Reader 1

Has your wife read all your books?

Reader 3

Hmmm… if you could be any part of a BLT sandwich, which part would you be? The bacon, the lettuce, the tomato or the toasted bread?

G Benson

Haha any author mates I drink with we end up talking about other books we love

@Reader 1 she has!

Reader 5

Names or it’s never happened

G Benson

@Reader 3 I’d be the lettuce, mostly made of water and I like green

Reader 5

Gabby, whose books have you read who are here talking to you tonight?

That’s an on the spot question

G Benson

Ohh nooo I cheated in my answer because I mostly read fanfiction hahaa

I talk about fanfic and they talk about books and I say “Yeah but…Kara and Lena from Supergirl…in another 20000 word angsty one shot”

Reader 3

Favorite fanfic pairing?

G Benson

Lena and Alex from Supergirl

Reader 6

Yes!!  Love Kara & Lena!! Can’t wait for october for the new season!!!

G Benson

Clarke and Lexa too but also it hurts a lot to think about

Reader 6

Eek no no no not okay Alex with Kelly

G Benson

I love Alex and Kelly too

But I tend to love whats not on the screen as it has more fic and angst potential, I am an angst love in fic. I don’t even need happy endings

Reader 3

What pairing would you like to see but have yet to see?

G Benson

@Reader 3 I wanted Alex and Lena very badly because then they could give us queer Lena, even thought they’d never give Lena/Kara, and Alex could avoid the trap of having a relationship and that would be all her story would become, or all her gfs would be, as Lena has a role in the show that extends to connections and storylines with other characters

Reader 10

Lena with almost everyone. Katie McGrath is amazing.

Reader 6

Though I did think last season they were pushing Lena and Alex…only for Alex didn’t know who Kara was lol … then in pops James’s sister haha

Reader 1

I am a season behind

G Benson

@Reader 6 same!

@Reader 1 the last season was suuuuuper slow to start

Reader 1

I’m just too busy to catch up. I will though. I love alex

Reader 6

I want Alex haircut!!           

G Benson

Alex is the best, as is the relationship with Kara and Alex

Reader 1

Definitely. They are great

Reader 6

It was super slow for sure but it was great besides the end with stupid Lex!!

Reader 5

What are we discussing here? I’m too old for this convo, might be my bedtime now.

Reader 6

Supergirl

G Benson

HAha I do need to head off too, it’s late this side of the world

unless there’s any last WHT question?

Reader 1

My daughter loves supergirl too. Since she was 2.

I will probably think of some after i finish my reread

Reader 5

I could talk to you about WHT all night, i can practically recite it I’ve read it that often

Reader 2

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Gabby! Especially with the time difference

G Benson

Feel free ask them when you have the Reader 1!

Reader 1

Will do

G Benson

@Reader 5 that’s the highest praise I think one can get!

Thanks for having me @Reader 2 it’s been fun!

Reader 4

It was so great chatting with you, thanks so much

Reader 6

Yes thank you!! I’ve been trying months to get you here!!

Reader 5

It’s true, I even bought the paperback

Reader 3

Yes, thanks for joining us.

Reader 5

Thanks Gabby, it’s been amazing to talk to you

Reader 10

Thank you!

G Benson

It’s been so much fun chatting to you all! Revisiting Sam and Hayden is always such a good time

Reader 5

Don’t forget the sequel

Reader 1

Thanks for creating them

G Benson

They pretty stubbornly created themselves, they popped out fully formed

Reader 1

Awesome

Then thanks for listening to them

G Benson

Thanks again, and I hope you all have an awesome afternoon/night/morning! This was fun, I hope to see you all again!

Sneak Peek: Destroyers

The Elimination Game is reduced to ashes but Daniel and Sasha can’t afford to celebrate. Every Watcher in the state is looking for them, so when a resistance group calling themselves the Destroyers offer a safe haven, they have no choice but to accept. The Destroyers don’t give out charity, though. They expect help in return and as they arm themselves to take down the Watchers, Daniel and Sasha must choose: fight or flee?

Destroyers by Mae Orwell

Destroyers is the third book in the Watchers trilogy, available now on all major retailers. Read the first chapter below.


The scene in the motel room is chaotic when Sasha, Daniel and Levi return from the office, first aid kit in hand.

“Quick, open it up,” Aisha barks at them the moment they’re in the door. “Is there antiseptic? What about a hemostat?”

“I don’t know what that is!” Sasha says, panicked, as she comes over to the bed and pulls open the kit.

Aisha has Brody’s leg elevated with a stack of pillows and her hand is clamped over his thigh. Jane’s standing by with her arms full of what looks like every towel from the bathroom, and there’s blood everywhere. It’s on Aisha’s hands, on the comforter, and on the wash cloth she’s using to put pressure on the wound.

“Oh my God,” Levi says, his eyes as big as saucers. “Is he going to be okay?”

“Go sit over there,” Aisha barks at him. “You’re in my light.”

She nods to the front of the room, where Francie and Erica are huddled together beneath the window. They’re both just as pale as Brody, clinging to each other and looking sick with worry.

While Sasha frantically sifts through the first aid kit looking for anything that’ll help, Daniel takes Levi’s arm and guides him over to the window. The two of them sit down with Francie and Erica, and Daniel arranges his body so as to block their view.

“Don’t watch,” he says. “Aisha’s going to take care of Brody.”

“Are there Watchers out there?” Erica asks, her voice barely audible. She looks up and when she reaches for the curtains, Daniel sees her hand shaking.

He takes it before she can rustle the thin curtains, squeezing her hand in what he hopes is a comforting gesture. “No. Not right now, but we have to be careful.”

“They’ll be looking for us,” Levi says.

“We can’t worry about that right now,” Daniel answers.

“He’s bleeding out,” Aisha says, drawing everyone’s attention back to the bed. “Screw the antiseptic – I need that hemostat now. It looks like scissors, but with a gripping end. Any luck?”

Sasha riffles through the first aid kit, making a mess of bandages all over the stained comforter until finally, she fumbles something small and metal out of the box. “Is this it?”

Aisha doesn’t bother to confirm – she just snatches the hemostat out of Sasha’s hands and goes to work. When she lifts the towel from Brody’s thigh, blood comes bubbling out of the wound like baking soda from a science fair volcano and Erica makes a retching sound.

Daniel puts his hand over her eyes and then he closes his own. The darkness is only marginally better than watching Aisha dig into Brody’s thigh with the instrument.

“I have to get the bullet out,” Aisha says. “Or else the bleeding won’t stop.”

Brody regains consciousness as the thin metal pincer invades his already shredded thigh muscles. He wakes up with a scream of pure agony and Aisha motions to Jane.

“Keep him quiet or the Watchers will find us!”

Jane drops to her knees beside Brody’s head, taking his hand. “It’s going to be okay. Aisha’s fixing you up. Squeeze my hand as hard as you need to.”

“Okay,” Brody says weakly. Then Aisha twists the hemostat inside the bullet hole and this time Brody and Jane both scream as he clamps down on her hand.

“That’s not good enough,” Aisha warns. “Put a towel in his mouth.”

Jane gives her a shocked look for a split second, but she does as Aisha orders, letting Brody bite down on a clean hand towel.

“How many people are checked into the motel tonight?” Sasha asks Levi. He’s got his knees hugged to his chest and he doesn’t answer her right away. “Levi!”

“Huh?”

“How many people are here?” she asks again. “Are they going to hear this and report us?”

“No,” Levi says, his voice shaky. “Even if they heard, the type of people who stay here aren’t the kind who can afford to report people.”

“Good,” Sasha says. “Are you okay?”

“Umm,” Levi says, losing his concentration again. “Yeah.”
“Got it!” Aisha says, retracting the hemostat, a small-caliber bullet pinched between its prongs.

“Thank God,” Brody says after Jane removes the towel from his mouth. He lifts his head just long enough to see the proof before his head falls back on the bed and he’s unconscious again.

“Is he going to make it?” Jane asks. 
“I need to stitch him up,” Aisha says, “and he’ll need better antibiotics than that first aid kit is likely to contain. But getting the bullet out was a good first step – it bought us a little time. Sasha, is there a needle and thread in there?”

“Yeah, I found a sewing kit,” Sasha says, passing a little pack of thread to Aisha. “But I don’t think it’s for stitches.”

“It’ll have to do,” Aisha says.

They all sit in silence for a few minutes while she stitches and then bandages Brody’s leg. Some of them are watching her, cringing along with each poke of the needle, but most of them wouldn’t watch if a pair of lunatics on a sound stage offered them a million dollars.

When she’s done, Aisha stands and goes into the bathroom to wash her hands. She comes back into the room and takes a clean towel from Jane to dry off, and every single set of eyes is on her.

Levi is the only one who has the courage to speak. “Now what?”

“We should get him to the Destroyer compound as soon as possible,” Aisha says. “Without further intervention, he could go septic, and we all know we can’t risk taking him to a hospital. The Destroyers have all the medical equipment I need and-”

“I’m sorry, what?” Daniel interrupts. “The who?”

“The Destroyers,” Levi fills in enthusiastically. “Aisha’s one of them. She came to take down The Elimination Game.”
“Well, actually,” Aisha says, “I came for you, Daniel.”

Daniel just narrows his eyes at her and Sasha stands, taking an instinctive step toward Daniel. “What does that mean?”

“I already told all this to Sasha and Levi,” Aisha says, her tone patient. “I’m part of a resistance group called the Destroyers. Our mission is to take down the Watcher system, and the first step in our plan was to dismantle The Elimination Game because it was the embodiment of everything that’s wrong with the mentality of American citizens right now.”

“You didn’t take down The Elimination Game,” Jane objects. “We did. We fought our way out.”

“Yes, you did,” Aisha says. “But that’s only half the story. The reason you were able to fight your way out and those evil people didn’t just let you burn was because the Destroyers hacked into the network and made sure the viewers saw what was really going on there. I can tell you all about it and even show you what we did if you agree to come to the compound with me.”

“Agree,” Daniel snorts, looking at Sasha. “Well, at least she’s giving us the illusion of freedom, unlike Gary and the game.”

“You are free,” Aisha insists. “If you don’t want to go, that’s your decision to make – but the Watchers will be looking for you and the Destroyers can offer protection.”

“In exchange for what?” Daniel asks, narrowing his eyes at Aisha. He may have been a sheltered, naive person six months ago when he walked away from his father’s campaign, but now he knows better – nothing in life is free.

“We think you could be of service to the revolution,” Aisha says.

“Me?” Daniel asks.

“Yes,” Aisha answers, looking earnest. “With your growing online celebrity-”

Daniel looks to Sasha, confused. Sasha takes his hand and squeezes, saying, “It’s true – Levi showed me while you were gone. There are actually people out there who have been rooting for us.”

“Sure didn’t seem like it every time I went into that Elimination Room,” Daniel says.

“Look,” Aisha says, “we don’t have many options right now. Brody won’t survive unless he gets some proper medical care and none of us can stay in this motel room. I’d give the Watchers about six hours before they trace us, and that’s being generous. Come with me to the compound and hear our plan, and if you don’t like what you hear, you’re free to go.”

“Just like that,” Daniel says, skeptical.

“Just like that,” Aisha says. “But I’ll warn you in advance – I’m going to need to blindfold you at some point during the journey because if you choose to leave, you can’t know where the compound is.”

Under the window, Erica whimpers and Jane goes over to her, putting one arm around Erica and the other around Francie. Levi’s still wide-eyed, but his expression has changed from horror to fascination.

“I want to go,” he says.

“How far is it?” Daniel asks.

“About three hours,” Aisha says. “I’ll have to call my contact to pick us up, but we can be there before morning if we act fast.”

“How many people are there?” Sasha asks.

“Half a dozen right now,” Aisha says. “We’re small, but our supporters are growing in number every day.”

The idea turns Daniel’s stomach, but Levi’s clearly bought in. Sasha looks on the fence like he is, and Jane looks nervous, too, but Aisha’s right. They only have two choices. They can take their chances with the Watchers on the streets, who will certainly show them no mercy if they’re found, or they can take their chances with the Destroyers at an undisclosed location.

Brody groans, his hand going instinctively to his leg, but when he touches the bandage, he winces in pain. Aisha diverts her attention to him, inspecting his injury. Blood is already beginning to bloom on the fresh bandage and everyone knows that’s not good news.

“Look, I’m not going to sugar coat it,” Aisha says to everyone. “It’s going to be dangerous, and if a Watcher drone zeros in on us while we’re traveling, there’s a chance we won’t even be able to get to the Destroyer compound. But if we don’t try, Brody is going to die.”

Silence descends on the room and everyone looks from Aisha to Brody, and then to Daniel. They’re waiting on his call.

He takes a deep breath, trying to settle his nerves.

“Okay,” he says at last. “But if you try to imprison us when we get there, I’m going to be very disappointed. I’ve had about enough breaking out of places to last me a lifetime, but I’ll do it again if I have to.”

“I promise, you can leave whenever you want,” Aisha says.

“Call your contact,” Daniel says.

Sneak Peek: Fighters

After narrowly escaping America’s most deadly game show, Sasha and Daniel are on the run from bounty-hunting Watchers. When Daniel is recaptured and thrust back into The Elimination Game for an even more brutal round two, Sasha must recruit new allies to help her rescue Daniel – or better yet, burn the whole sadistic game to the ground.

Fighters by Mae Orwell

Fighters is the second book in the Watchers trilogy, available now on all major retailers. Read the first chapter below.


The prison camera is poor quality, grainy and without color. The building itself is at least a hundred years old and its technology isn’t much newer. But it’s good enough to pick up the features of the woman being marched down the hall by a guard.

She’s wearing a baggy prison jumpsuit that drags on the floor beneath her thin-soled sneakers, and she’s holding a small pile of threadbare sheets. A flat thing that’s barely padded enough to qualify as a pillow is stacked on top, and that’s all she will possess for the next six months.

Her crime? Pointing a gun into a crowd on the street outside her apartment. Even the drones were insufficient to de-escalate that situation, and when the armed Tier 1 Watchers have to deploy, it’s a guarantee that somebody’s going to prison.

The inmates on this cell block are watching the new arrival with interest. It’s not that she’s particularly interesting, but there’s not much excitement in the women’s wing of the Philadelphia County Correctional Facility. Intake day is always a source of entertainment. The other prisoners leer at her and the surveillance camera picks up a few cat calls along the way.

“Hey, baby,” one of them says. “There’s room in my cell for that sugar.”

“Shut up, inmate!” snaps the guard.

He’s walking on the woman’s right, his hand around her plump forearm. She’ll lose plenty of that weight during her stay here – the cooks take great pleasure in making the food as awful as possible for newcomers.

As the woman and her escort walk closer to the ceiling-mounted camera that’s capturing all this, she keeps her jaw set and her eyes straight ahead. Her dark hair is greasy and unkempt, but she doesn’t look like the type who would wind up here. She definitely doesn’t look like the kind of person who would snap and start waving a gun around, but then again, they never do.

She and the guard walk beneath the surveillance camera and there’s a momentary pause as it continues to film an empty corridor. An inmate puts her hand out from between the bars of her cell, flicking off the guard behind his back. Then the view switches to another ceiling-mounted camera farther down the hall.

The guard squeezes his new charge’s arm, his fingers digging into her flesh, then brings her to a halt.

“Here it is – home sweet home,” he says, then shouts to another guard stationed out of view at the other end of the hall, “Open cell 145!”

A buzzer sounds and the woman flinches as the cell door slides open.

The guard releases her arm only to shove her head-long into the empty cell. The camera pivots, following the action as the woman careens into the edge of a steel bed frame and drops her pile of sheets on the floor.

The room is very small and the bed takes up the majority of the space. The cell is about six feet square, with a sink-toilet combo in the corner. There are no windows – no natural light at all. Her only view for the next six months will be the woman in the cell across from her and, of course, the surveillance camera mounted right outside her cell.

The guard smirks. When the woman regains her balance, he steps into the cell and slugs her. His meaty fist connects with her jaw and she stumbles backward. She hits the concrete block wall with a sickly thud, getting the wind knocked out of her, then slides down to the floor.

The guard takes another step toward her and she puts up her arms in self-defense, but the other guard hollers from his station at the end of the hall. “Evans! Everything okay in there?”

Evans’ back is to the camera but his clenched fist shows just how irritated he is by this interruption. He shouts over his shoulder, “Yeah, just helping her make the bed!”

He turns back to the woman still cowering on the floor. He rolls his shoulders back and makes a stomach-churning hawwwwk sound. When he steps to the side, the camera catches the glimmer of a massive loogie sliding down the woman’s nose. She’s doing her best not to react, not to give him the satisfaction of seeing her disgust.

“Traitor,” he growls. “I hope you get what you deserve in here.”

Then he marches out of the cell and gives the order to close the door. It slides shut and the camera captures a sly grin spreading across his face. He pulls a billy club from his utility belt and rattles it against the bars, then shouts at the top of his lungs, “Lookie what we got here – this one’s a Watcher!”

That gets the other inmates riled up good, and just in time for their mandatory exercise period in the yard. A lot of mumbling and discussion can be heard from all around the cell block. There’s a Watcher in their midst, one who’s not in a guard’s uniform and carrying a baton.

It’s payback time for the infamous Elvis Splorch.

Sneak Peek: The Shark

I’ve teamed up with five incredible lesfic authors to write a series about finding love, convention style.

Crowds, cosplay, chemistry – it’s all happening for these lucky ladies.

Twelve women – from tv stars to rabid fans – descend on Las Vegas for one weekend to attend the biggest mystery, thriller and suspense convention of the year.

Love connections are made, hearts are brown, and these romances are not going to stay in Vegas.

The books in this series are all interconnected – each one is a standalone and they can be read in any order, but you’ll find fun cameos, events and other ‘Easter eggs’ that we’ve hidden throughout all six books.

I had so much fun collaborating with Lily Craig, Hildred Billings, Anna Cove, Sienna Waters and Kate McLay on this series, and I hope you have fun exploring the convention! All six books are available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited.

Check out the first chapter of my book, The Shark, below.


Sabrina Grace stood in front of her bookshelves, nibbling the edge of her fingernail as she looked at the manuscripts in front of her.

There were at least a hundred of them arranged neatly on the shelves, along with action figures and Pops for all her favorite TV shows. Her manuscripts ranged from spec scripts for single episodes of existing shows to entire seasons of things that only existed inside her own head. She’d been adding to the collection since she was a teenager and there was nothing she loved more than the satisfying feeling of seeing those shelves fill up with the printed versions of all her hard work.

Of course, it’d be even more satisfying if she’d actually sold some of them, but that was why she was going to ShudderCon, wasn’t it?

She eyed all her manuscripts. She’d only have the chance to pitch one idea at the convention and it had to be her very best. That was a tricky decision. The best spec script? The best characters? The fastest plot? The one with the most world-building depth?

So many scripts to choose from and only fifteen more minutes before Sabrina’s Uber driver arrived to take her to the airport. She’d been agonizing over the choice for weeks already and when her dad called her from down the hall, she welcomed one final, brief distraction.

“Sabrina? You haven’t left yet, have you?”

“No, Dad,” she called back. “Would I leave without saying goodbye?”

She walked down the hall to meet him. She and her dad lived in a nice little Cape Cod in a decent suburb of Cleveland—a house Sabrina couldn’t dream of affording all on her own. Not on a call center employee’s salary and not when so much of her income went to her dad’s medical care. Every dollar she had left after the bills went toward her unending quest to get the attention of TV producers who could make her scripts into reality.

Well, the quest had been unending. It was coming to a very definite end now, and much sooner than she’d like. Sabrina was attending one last convention where she could pitch her ideas and chase her dreams. Then they would come to a screeching halt on Monday morning.

She shook that thought from her mind and went into the kitchen, rounding the corner with a smile. “Hey, Dad. Smells good in here—what’s for breakfast?”

“Cheesy grits,” he answered. “Carla makes them just how I like them.”

“So, mostly cheese?” Sabrina teased, crossing the kitchen.

Her dad was in his wheelchair as always, clean-shaven thanks to his homecare nurse and wearing his favorite Cavs jersey. Instead of sitting at the dining table, Carla had pushed him over to the big picture window to enjoy the late October sunshine while he ate.

“You got it,” Carla said, holding another spoonful up to his mouth. “But they’re nothing special—just the instant type. The secret is to add extra butter. Sabrina, do you want a bowl before you leave?”

“No time,” Sabrina said, glancing at her phone. “Ten minutes until the Uber arrives.”

“Did you decide which show to pitch?” her dad asked. Sabrina gave him a tortured look.

“No,” she said, covering her face. “I still can’t choose. Is that terrible?”

“You’re worrying too much, honey-girl,” he said. “All of your writing is fantastic. Besides, you know my vote.”

Sabrina smiled. “The apocalypse.”

“What?” Carla asked with a snort.

“She wrote it over the summer,” Sabrina’s dad said. “It’s brilliant—her best script yet.”

“But will it be good enough?” Sabrina asked wistfully. She leaned against the windowsill, changing the subject. “Are you two sure you’re going to be okay for the weekend? I could shorten my trip, or—”

“No, you go,” her dad interrupted. “Enjoy your last hurrah before your new job starts. You deserve it.”

Sabrina smiled, but the expression didn’t reach her eyes. She didn’t get to as many conventions and industry events as she’d like to, but she still managed to make it to a couple each year. ShudderCon was the biggest in the genre and Sabrina always looked forward to it, but it was hard to leave her dad, even just for the weekend.

He’d been diagnosed with ALS three years ago and the fact that he was still around was no small miracle. He still had pretty good control of his voice, and although he’d been forced into the wheelchair full-time about two months ago, he was still in good spirits. They were lucky the disease was progressing slowly, but each trip Sabrina took got harder to justify.

Even though Carla always took good care of her dad when Sabrina was gone, she could never quite shake the worry. What if something happened to him while she was off chasing a pipe dream?

That was part of the reason why she’d applied for a promotion when the opportunity came up at the insurance company where she worked. The hours and pay in the communications department were far better than in the call center, and it gave her dad some peace of mind. Come Monday, Sabrina would set her childish Hollywood dreams aside to climb the corporate ladder in the name of financial security.

It was just too bad she was already expecting her new job writing policy manuals to be mind-numbingly boring.

“Thanks, Dad,” she said. “Do either of you need anything before I go?”

“In the next few minutes before your car arrives?” her dad asked. “No, honey-girl, Carla and I will be just fine. You enjoy your trip.”

“Okay,” Sabrina said. “I’ll try.”

She gave him a hug, then glanced at her phone again. Five minutes to pick the best manuscript out of the bunch—the one that would make or break her TV writing dreams.

Was the apocalypse a big enough idea to get the job done?

She hustled back down the hall and scanned her shelves one more time to be sure. There was a lesbian detective agency, a small-town police department chasing down a literally invisible killer, and a Sherlock-inspired drama with an all-star dream cast of queer actors that Sabrina had spent many a night developing… but the apocalypse was her most recent project. It was freshest in her mind and her dad was right—it was good stuff.

She grabbed the script for the pilot episode and tucked it into her carry-on bag, along with a zip drive containing all her writing on the project, just as her phone chimed.

Your Uber driver, Gloria, is here.

Sabrina’s heart skipped a beat and she slung her bag over her shoulder.

When she got outside, there was a red SUV waiting on the curb and Sabrina jogged over to it. She worried about her dad when she left town, but she also couldn’t deny the excited, eager feeling that filled her chest every time she set out on a new adventure.

ShudderCon was the top mystery, thriller, and suspense convention in the country and Sabrina had only missed it once in the last five years. It was a four-day weekend filled to the brim with fans, writers, actors and every other type of industry insider all fawning over their favorite shows and stars. It was impossible not to get excited—mundane office job be damned.

As Sabrina slid into the back seat of the SUV, she resolved not to give her real life worries another thought until her plane touched down in Cleveland again on Sunday night.

“Going to the airport, huh?” the driver asked. Gloria turned out to be a middle-aged woman with her hair pulled back in a wispy bun, and she had no problem filling the silence on the twenty-minute drive to the airport. “Business or pleasure?”

“A little of both,” Sabrina said. “But mostly pleasure.”

“Sounds like my kind of trip,” the woman said with a glance into the rearview mirror. “Where are you headed?”

“Las Vegas,” Sabrina said. She was excited about the convention and trying hard not to think of the actual flight. She wasn’t the biggest fan of flying—or rather, she wasn’t a fan of take-off or touch-down.

“Oh, Sin City!” Gloria driver perked up, immediately more interested in Sabrina’s trip. “What’s your business, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“TV writing,” Sabrina said, a smile creeping across her face as she noticed a glimmer of awe in the woman’s eyes. Never mind the fact that she’d never sold a single script—her Uber driver didn’t know that, and she didn’t need to know that being a TV writer was nothing but a pipe dream for Sabrina. She leaned forward as much as her seatbelt would allow and asked, “Have you heard of ShudderCon?”

“No, what’s that?” Gloria asked, looking ready to be amazed no matter what Sabrina’s answer was.

The excitement building in Sabrina’s chest grew, making her forget about the plane for another minute. These were the moments she lived for—when she got to unapologetically geek out about her passions. “It’s incredible. You know ComicCon, right?”

“That’s the thing all the comic book nerds flock to, right?”

“Yeah. ShudderCon is just like that, only for mystery, thriller and suspense nerds,” Sabrina explained. “It’s in a different city every year and they rent a huge convention center where you can go to panels with your favorite actors, get autographs, and see sneak peeks of new shows and movies. Everyone who’s anyone in the industry will be there.”

“And you’re somebody?” Gloria asked. She was looking at Sabrina in the mirror like she was one name-drop away from veering to the side of the road to ask for an autograph.

“Not yet,” Sabrina had to admit. It would have been fun to fantasize, to pretend she’d already sold her script and she was a famous TV writer. But she couldn’t bring herself to lie to this woman, even if she would probably never see Gloria again. “But I’ve got a script in my bag that I’m hoping I can sell to one of the networks this weekend.”

“Ooh, use me for practice,” Gloria said, her eyes lighting up. “Pitch me your show.”

“Okay, so there’s this new strain of superbug infecting people all over the country,” Sabrina said, a grin forming on her lips. It really was a good script, which would make it all the more painful if she had to come home Monday morning empty-handed. She pushed the thought aside—no more worries until the weekend was over. “There’s an epidemic that’s getting really serious. People start thinking it could be the apocalypse, and the first episode opens with a group of scientists isolating themselves in a high-tech bunker, desperately looking for the cure…”

Keep reading now…

Sneak Peek: Watchers

A disgraced senator’s son and a resourceful orphan are thrown together on a sadistic reality show in this dystopian trilogy for fans of The Hunger Games and 1984.

Watchers is the first novel in the Watchers trilogy, available now on all major retailers. Read the first chapter below.


The computer screen switches from an old television test pattern to video of a shabbily dressed woman. A stretched-out rubber Elvis Presley mask obscures her face.

She is sitting in a small, dimly lit room with one corner of her desk visible in the frame. It is littered with soda bottles and wrinkled fast food bags, giving the impression that she does not leave this space very often. The only other thing that is visible in the shot is an Emoji Movie poster on the wall behind her.

The woman adjusts a microphone, moving it closer, and we hear a slightly muffled version of her voice through the mask. It is slightly atonal and lethargic as she begins the broadcast.

“Good evening everyone and welcome to another episode of Dystopia Today. I’m your host, Elvis Splorch, and I’ve got a special treat for you today.

We’ve been following Sasha and Daniel, our favorite couple in the Elimination Game house, for the last five weeks and y’all have been pestering me relentlessly to dig into their backgrounds. As you know, contestants don’t exactly audition and many of you have been asking for the story behind America’s favorite indentured lovers.

One of you even managed to deliver a letter to my house, which is impressive since we all know the United States Postal Service has not cared for snow or rain or heat or gloom of night for years now… but it was creepy as hell and I’d like to take this moment to kindly ask all of you to refrain from looking up dear old Uncle Elvis in real life.

Thanks.

Anyway, I heard your pleas. I spent days and days digging through old surveillance footage all over the city and I found that sweet, sweet background information you’ve been asking for.”

Elvis holds up a small external hard drive, waving it teasingly at the camera, then continues.

“There are eight hours of video here, all queued up and ready to go live at the push of a button. Are you ready? Are you hungry for it?”

The comments section below the video lights up with the barely literate ravings of people who have nothing more to look forward to than the life stories of a couple reality show contestants. They’ve already cleared their schedules from now until Kingdom Come and they want it.

Elvis sets down the hard drive and crosses her arms in front of her chest with a sigh.

“Here’s the thing. I can’t show you this video yet,” she says, genuine discomfort edging into her voice. “I can’t afford to show you this video and I think you all know where I’m going with this.

My donations page is currently sitting at $10. That $10 is what I have to live on this week, and it’s what keeps the lights on around here. Do you realize what the McDonald’s Dollar Menu costs these days? Let me tell you, it ain’t been a dollar in a long time.

So here’s what we’re going to do, and I want you to keep in mind that you’re forcing my hand.

I’ve got this footage all ready for you and I’m going to push that ‘play’ button just as soon as we get my donation page up to $100. That’s barely enough to keep the McDonald’s on the table and the Splorch lubricated, but I’m willing to make it happen because I love you guys. But until we reach the $100 mark, you guys are going to be watching a live stream I found of the day room at the Lower North Philadelphia Assisted Living Facility.”

The screen abruptly switches from the self-styled Elvis to a grainy black-and-white feed of a room in which five or six elderly people are sitting around, not doing much of anything. The comments section explodes with objections as a ticker appears in the bottom corner of the screen, showing Elvis’s ransom goal.

On screen, three wrinkled old women sit in recliners so plush they’re nearly swallowing their occupants. They stare blankly at a point just below the camera, and by the glaze of their eyes, it’s probably a television just out of frame.

Behind them, there are two hunchbacked old men sitting at a table with a checkerboard between them, but they both appear to have forgotten that there’s a game in progress. One is staring at the empty nurse’s station across the room and the other is picking at the hem of his shirt with a shaky hand.

It only takes a minute for the ticker in the corner to jump from $10 to $15 and Elvis says over the elderly live stream, “That’s more like it, folks. We’re not here to watch the relentless march of time – we’re here to forget about that. Keep the donations coming and we’ll be watching Daniel and Sasha in no time… and let me assure you, it’s juicy stuff!”

The ticker jumps again, this time from $15 to $23.