Sneak Peek: Scary & Sweet

In this fierce rivalry, only one of us can end up on top, and Zach Holiday thinks he’s got me right where he wants me. He may be up to his old tricks but I’ve got a few of my own to teach him.

Scary & Sweet is the first novella in my steamy romantic comedy Holiday Valley series, available now on Amazon. Read the first chapter below.


It’s a quarter to five and that means I’ve got exactly fifteen minutes to hustle up the steps of the Holiday Valley town hall and deliver my petition signatures with the intent to run for mayor.

I know it’s kind of crazy – especially considering the fact that my last name is not Holiday – but a girl with big political aspirations has to start somewhere, and I can’t think of a better place to begin my career. I’ve lived in Holiday Valley all my life, where everyone treats each other like family, and sometimes it feels like this silly, festive place is actually a part of me. What better way to honor my birthplace than to take a turn shaping it for future generations?

Yeah, I might be a little sappy, and a lot optimistic, but I’ve got big ideas and this little town is the perfect place for me to practice for the future.

That is, if rush hour traffic doesn’t bring my hopes and aspirations to a grinding halt.

The town’s having a bit of a moment right now. Some big shot reporter from Travel + Leisure came to our annual Halloween bash at the Holiday mansion last year, fell in love with the town just like everyone does, and wrote a glowing piece for the magazine. Ever since then, we’ve been inundated with tourists who can’t get enough of our kitsch.

When they found out we also do it up big for every other major holiday, well, they kind of lost their shit. Everyone from families looking to recapture that nostalgic holiday spirit to Instagrammers seeking the perfect seasonal backdrops started flooding into the town at every major holiday.

And the townies? We freaking love it – but of course, a bunch of weirdos who choose to populate a small town whose whole raison d’être is holiday cheer would say ‘the more, the merrier’.

The only thing that puts a damper on our newfound popularity is that Holiday Valley is a small town and we don’t quite have the infrastructure to handle this influx of visitors. The town’s about five miles square, with a quaint Main Street full of shops and restaurants, and houses branching off in all directions.

That’s one street that gets awfully congested around our newfound ‘rush hour,’ and which makes being a pedestrian way harder than it used to be.

As I basically sprint my way down the sidewalk, petition tucked into the crook of my arm, I actually wonder if I’ll make it to town hall before Barb, the town clerk, locks the doors. Would she accept my bid for mayor if I shoved my signature sheets under the door along with a pleading note to forgive the wrinkles?

When I left my house ten minutes ago, I knew it would be a close call, but when I walked into the kitchen to find my petition still sitting on the counter – right where I’d left it this morning – all I could do was run and silently pray. My little brother was supposed to drop it off on his way to school this morning. He promised me he’d remember. But who knows what goes on in the girl-addled mind of a teenaged boy?

I’m breaking a sweat even in the cool breeze that signals the beginning of my favorite time of year – sweater weather. And my long, dark hair, pulled back in a bun, is a wild, wind-blown mess.

Good thing Barb’s not the judging type, and the town hall should be pretty much empty by the time I arrive. The last thing I want is to run into Maggie Holiday, the town’s current mayor, with my cheeks red, wheezing from the effort of running.

I’m – gasp – here to run for mayor, I can just imagine myself saying as I hold out my petition for her to see all the signatures I’ve gathered, damp with palm sweat. Please take me seriously!

I know – and every single person who signed my petition knows – that if the exact circumstances that are currently conspiring did not exist, I would have a snowball’s chance of winning. That’s why I’m hauling ass to the town hall – if I miss this deadline, I’ll probably never get another chance to run for mayor of Holiday Valley.

The town’s been around for about 150 years, settled by Alexander Holiday himself, and it’s more or less stayed in the family ever since.

Every single member of the Holiday family has served at least one term as mayor, and Maggie Holiday has been in the position for the last sixteen years. She’s absolutely adored by the whole town, and the only reason I stand a chance is because I’m not running against her – she’s retiring once her term ends.

That leaves a narrow opening for me, right after Maggie retires and before her heir apparent son, Zach, is ready to take his turn in the mayor’s office. He’s still in college, one year younger than me, thank God.

I’m going to slide into the mayor’s office like my little brother slides into the cheerleaders’ DMs.

Right now, though, I’m looking for an opportunity to slide through the roundabout that is the last obstacle standing between me and town hall. Mayor Holiday put it in last spring after we’d just gotten through the gauntlet of winter holidays, promising it would alleviate the traffic bottlenecks that tend to happen on Main Street every day at nine and five. That, it did, but it also made pedestrian traffic feel like playing a game of Frogger.

Should I receive your vote, I promise to find a solution for both motorists and walkers alike, I practice in my head while I look for an opening.

Nope.

Nope.

Nope.

The stream of cars is nothing like in big cities, but it’s pretty endless for a girl with a stack of papers in her arms and a time-sensitive deadline on her dreams fast approaching.

Nope.

Nope.

Maybe now?

I step off the curb and no sooner does my heel touch the asphalt than a car horn blares in my ears, making my heart pound and panic rip through me.

A car whips around the roundabout, aiming for the exit where I’m standing. Am I about to be a little green splat on the road, game over?

Someone grabs my arm and yanks me back onto the sidewalk, loosening my grip on my petition in the process. Papers go flying, hell, my skirt goes flying momentarily over my hips, and the car speeds past.

Must be a tourist – a townie would never try to flatten me without so much as a friendly Holiday Valley Sorry, bud!

“Trying to get yourself killed, Abbi?”

I freeze as the owner of the hand that yanked me out of harm’s way speaks and I know that voice. I could never forget it. Zach Holiday, heir apparent and, it just so happens, my childhood bully.

Great.

I regain my composure and pull my arm out of his grasp, then turn to face him, ready to scowl and shoot a snappy comeback at him. But then my eyes lock with his smoldering hazel ones and any comeback I might have had – snappy or otherwise – fades from my tongue.

Damn it, I haven’t seen him in three years, ever since he went away to that fancy college I could only ever dream of, but the Ivy League has been good to him.

He’s always been good-looking, with a strong jaw and a tall, athletic build. But now he’s got a thin crop of scruff along that delicious jawline, and it’s obvious that he’s been spending even more time on the golf course than he did in high school. His biceps are bulging out of a sleek, sporty t-shirt and his skin is tanned and golden.

I’m pretty sure he notices the slack-jawed way that I’m appraising him, because a satisfied little smirk forms on his perfect lips.

“What are you doing back in town?” I snap at him while I bend down to start collecting the petition papers that have scattered all over the sidewalk. The breeze picks up and a second bolt of panic shoots through me as I picture all my hard-earned signatures scattering to the wind.

“You’re welcome for saving your life,” he says, deftly catching one of my blown papers before it has a chance to get away.

“The thank you card’s in the mail,” I grumble as he steps into the roundabout with utter, cocky confidence, holding his hand up to stop the traffic while he retrieves another piece of my petition.

When he comes back and holds it out for me, I snatch it away from him, trying not to look directly into those gorgeous hazel eyes. I catch a waft of cologne mixed with the smell of fresh-cut grass as his body comes nearer to mine, and my legs feel a little weak.

He really shouldn’t have the power to affect me this way – not after three years apart, and not after all the hell he put me through in school.

I can still vividly remember the milk snake he and that jackass best friend of his, Luke, slipped into my trick-or-treat bag one year when we were kids. I looked down to find it wriggling through the Milk Duds and screamed, and Zach damn near had an aneurysm laughing.

The snake turned out to be Luke’s pet and sure, it did turn out to be kind of cute when I was finally done having the vapors, but I never went trick-or treating again.

If everyone in Holiday Valley is like family, that would make Zach my cruel younger brother. And yet here I am, getting weak in the knees every time he looks at me. I must be a secret masochist.

Zach grabs the last loose piece of my petition, but instead of handing it back to me, he holds his arm out and says, “Here, allow me to escort a lady across my mother’s death trap.”

I don’t want to accept charity from Zach Holiday, of all people, but it’s now just five minutes til five and I have to admit defeat. Either he parts the sea of traffic for me, or I don’t get my petition filed on time to run for mayor.

“Thank you,” I say, surprised when he grabs my free hand and wraps it around his forearm like a true gentleman. It makes my cheeks burn and I hope he’s too distracted bending the traffic to his will to notice.

When we arrive safely on the other side of the roundabout – just about thirty more steps between me and Barb’s desk – I hold out my had for the last page of my petition, but Zach holds it out of my reach.

No – now is not the time for a schoolyard game of keep-away!

“Intent to run for mayor,” he reads, scanning his eyes over the signature.

“Yeah,” I say, standing a little taller. “Your mom announced that she’s retiring right after I finished my political science degree. It seemed like a sign.”

Zach gives me a sympathetic look and I can’t figure out what that’s all about. Trying to psyche me out? Steal my confidence? He might have been the pigtail-pulling prankster type in school, but he was never that kind of cruel.

“Can I have that back?” I ask, getting antsy as I glance up the town hall steps. Time’s running out. “Today’s the last day to file.”

“Just a second,” Zach says, pulling a pen out of his pocket. I gawk as he adds his name to the bottom of the page, then hands it back to me with another one of those odd, slightly pitying looks. “Good luck.”

“Thanks,” I say, furrowing my brow and studying him as I take the page. I don’t have time to figure out what’s going on in that handsome head of his.

I turn and head for the steps, and my confusion only intensifies as he follows me. What game is he playing now?

Sneak Peek: Good Vibes

An eccentric adult shop owner. An agoraphobic game collector. A romantic comedy about finding love and self-acceptance in the strangest places. Opposites attract when Theo offers to help Libby with her shop, but will they be brave enough to play the game of love?

My latest novel, Good Vibes, is available now on Amazon. Read the first chapter below.


“Oh wow, did you know the expansion pack has blank cards you can fill in yourself?” Theo Kostas asked her roommate.


She was sitting on the couch with a ripped-open mailer envelope beside her and a brand new card game spread out on the coffee table in front of her. This one was called Escape From Moon Base 9 and it was all anyone in her online gaming circles were talking about.
Of course, that didn’t mean it impressed her roommate.


Andie rolled her eyes on her way from her bedroom to the kitchen. “Nerd alert.”


“Shut up,” Theo teased. “Do you really think spending an entire Friday night waiting in line to get Nat Butler’s autograph is any less nerdy?”


That was what Andie had done last night. She’d gotten home around two a.m. and found Theo staring like a zombie at YouTube videos. She’d talked non-stop for at least thirty minutes about her spiritual connection with the rock star and how she was destined to become the future Mrs. Butler before finally pouring herself into bed around three.


Theo hadn’t heard a peep from her until she emerged from her bedroom, dyed blonde hair wild with sleep, apparently with the sole motivation of making fun of Theo’s hobbies.


Oh, and coffee.


“Make enough for me, will you?” Theo called into the kitchen. Andie grunted and Theo went back to inspecting her new deck of cards. 
Not enough people took advantage of the fill-in-the-blank cards – it took a certain amount of cockiness to think you knew a game better than the developers, but Theo took it as a personal challenge. Her mind was already turning with possibilities when Andie flopped onto the couch beside her, shoving the empty mailing envelope out of the way.


“Five-minute ETA on the coffee,” she said. “Did I tell you Nat’s eyes have this other-worldly quality to them? Like dark chocolate ganache infused with gold flecks…”


“Yeah,” Theo said, distracted. “About ten times last night.”


“Oh. Well, they’re amazing.”


“So I’ve heard.” 
Nat Butler was not unattractive, and Theo liked her music as much as anyone could like something their roommate played as if today was the last day it would exist. But Theo wasn’t a celebrity chaser, even though she and Andie lived in New York City and they’d bumped into a few. 
She wasn’t much of a woman chaser at all, in fact. All she needed lately was Moon Base 9 and her gamer friends online.


“Come on,” Andie said. “You would swoon if you met her.”


“Maybe.”


“You should have come last night,” she said, dragging herself off the couch as the coffee maker percolated. “I bet you would have had fun.”


Tight crowds in stadium seating. Long bathroom lines. An hour and a half subway ride in the sweltering July heat. Theo’s pulse jumped up and she shook her head. “I had fun at home.”


“You’re 32 years old,” Andie said on her way to the coffee maker. “Don’t you ever get tired of being 80?”


“Nope.”


Maybe an attack card to mess with another player’s gravity field… Theo was just mentally filing the idea away for one of the blank cards when the apartment buzzer sounded. Andie was mid-pour so Theo went to the intercom. 
“Hello?”


“Buzz me up,” her sister said. “And make it snappy – this stuff is heavy.”


“You need help?”


“Nah, I got it.”


Theo buzzed her sister into the building and took the chain off the apartment door, then went into the kitchen to retrieve her coffee from Andie. She was just gathering her Moon Base 9 cards to put them away when Penny burst into the apartment and dropped her 20-pound wedding binder on the coffee table.


“Careful!” Theo said. “I just got those cards.”


“They’re fine,” Penny said with a roll of her eyes. “Thanks for the help, by the way.”


“You said you had it.”


“Now, girls,” Andie said. “Quit your bickering or I’ll have to send you to separate corners.”


“Love you, baby sis,” Penny said, pinching Theo’s cheek. 
Theo swatted at Penny’s hand, then went into the kitchen to get her a cup of coffee. When she came back, Penny had completely overtaken the coffee table.


“What is all this?” Theo asked.


“Wedding supplies, of course!” Penny said. She took a long sip of coffee, but by the looks of it, she didn’t need to be caffeinated. She’d been riding the wedding planning high for about three months already with no signs of slowing down – and the wedding wasn’t for another eleven months. “You two are my maids of honor – please tell me you did not forget your promise to help me pick out invitations today.”


“Oh Lord,” Theo said, inspecting some of the stuff spread across the table. Theo was no savant, but it looked like there were at least two hundred different sample invitations there. “Where did you even get this many samples?”


“It’s amazing what you can get if you’re willing to ask,” Penny said.


“Or if you want to spend an entire week talking to suppliers, from the looks of it,” Andie said. “Ooh, this one’s pretty.”


“Too floral,” Penny said, plucking the invitation out of Andie’s hand and starting a discard pile. “There – one down, just a few more to go.”


“You’re insane,” Theo said. “What does Chet think of all this?”


“Well, he did send me over here,” Penny said.


“Thanks a lot, Chet,” Theo said. “I’ll remember this at Christmas when I’m choosing his gift.”


Andie and Penny laughed, and Theo brought a chair from the dining room so her sister could take her seat on the couch. The way she saw it, it was her sisterly duty to give Penny a hard time about how impressive it was that she’d become a Bridezilla the instant Chet put that ring on her finger. 
But sifting through wedding invitations was actually not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning. It wasn’t all that different from getting acquainted with the Moon Base 9 cards – only these were a lot more formal and, tragically, none of them made reference to space monsters.


“How about this one?” Theo asked, passing an elegant card with pretty calligraphy to her sister. “It’s simple but the font makes it feel modern.”


“I like it,” Penny said. “This’ll go in the maybe pile.”


The three of them sorted wedding invites for close to an hour before they could finally see the coffee table again beneath all that card stock. The discard pile was towering by the time they finished and Penny had narrowed it down to about ten maybe cards for Chet to weigh in on.


“Is that all for today?” Andie asked with a yawn. Obviously the coffee, followed by a rigorous invitation scavenger hunt, had done nothing to offset her Nat Butler-induced sleep deprivation.


“Maybe you’ve got a thousand first dance songs for us to listen to?” Theo suggested. “Or fifty different brands of Jordan almonds to taste for the wedding favors?”


“Don’t tempt me,” Penny said, tapping the overstuffed wedding binder, the weight of which was most definitely going to throw her back out before next June. “I do have one more wedding-related item to discuss with you two. The bachelorette party.”


“Planning that already?” Theo asked. A little nervous jitter worked its way through her stomach – wasn’t that something to worry about next spring?


“Yeah, isn’t that something you’re supposed to leave up to your maids of honor?” Andie asked.


“I would, but you know me – I don’t want to,” Penny said with a laugh. She turned to Theo. “And I know you don’t like taking trips…” 
The nervous jitter turned into a fist clenching Theo’s stomach. No, she very much did not like taking trips, and she didn’t like where this was going. 
“But this is my wedding and I only get to have one bachelorette party – I want it to be perfect.”


“Ooh, are we going somewhere fun?” Andie asked. She was always up for an adventure and Theo was already calculating Andie into her escape plan. She’d go in Theo’s stead, simple as that.


“Vegas,” Penny said and Theo’s stomach promptly dropped about five inches like a heavy stone had just materialized inside it.


“Las Vegas? Nevada?”


“Sin City, baby,” Penny said. Her big blue eyes were alight with excitement and she was obviously already married to the idea. Theo felt sick. Vegas was not just a quick day trip, which she might have been able to handle, or even a weekend trip to the family cabin in the Catskills. Las Vegas was a full-on trip and it was giving Theo hives just thinking about it.


The airport. The plane that was nothing more than a steel tube coasting through the air. The lights, the crowds, the distance from her safe little apartment with the shelves full of card games and her computer and everything else she needed just a few clicks away.


Jesus.


“I can’t,” Theo blurted.


She pulled Penny and Andie out of their reverie. They were already getting excited about hotel rooms and cocktails and exploring the Strip, and now they were both staring at Theo. Andie looked sympathetic but Penny had a hard look in her eyes that reminded Theo of their dad. He was the tough-love type, always telling her to ‘suck it up’ rather than let her weasel her way out of the things that scared her.


“You have to,” she said. “I’m sorry, but you’re my co-maid of honor and I need you at my bachelorette party.”


“You’ll have Andie-”


“I love Andie, but you’re my sister,” Penny said. “It’s just for a few days – Friday to Sunday – and it’s not happening for nine more months. I figured we’d go in April before the weather in Nevada gets too brutal.”


Theo’s whole body felt too hot, like someone had turned her internal thermostat way up. The trip could be in a week or eight years from now and she’d feel exactly the same way about it – Penny might as well be asking her to go to freaking Moon Base 9.


“I want to,” Theo said. Lie. “I’ll do my best.” 
Another lie. She was already brainstorming a dozen ways she could get out of it. Work obligations. Sudden illness. She’d pick a fight with Penny the day before the trip if she had to. It wasn’t that Theo was looking forward to disappointing her sister – after close to three decades of fighting the same exhausting battles over and over inside her own mind, she would love to just get on a plane and travel carefree across the country.


But Theo was barely capable of getting out of her chair right now, let alone taking all the steps required to go to Vegas and come back in one piece.


“I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough,” Penny said, her hands on her hips.


Well, that was new. 
Theo’s pulse started racing again. Everyone in her family was used to Theo’s anxiety-related limitations and she’d trained them a long time ago to expect a certain failure rate when it came to following through on plans. 
She always meant well, but sometimes she’d be standing in the doorway of her apartment, all ready to show up and not be a disappointment for once. But then a little voice inside her head would whisper in her ear, It’s not safe out there. And she’d be frozen to the floor.


Her family might not understand it, but they accepted it.


Until now, apparently.

“I don’t ask much of you,” Penny said. “Do you know how much of a pain in the ass it is to carry twenty pounds of wedding invitations across town on the subway? But I brought them to you because I know you’re more comfortable here. I do shit like that for you all the time, Theo, and I don’t mind. But this is my wedding. I want to go to Vegas with my best friends to celebrate and my sister will be there.”


Those blue eyes could turn icy when Penny was angry. Theo had seen it a few times, like when Andie told the entire middle school about Penny’s embarrassing crush on a teacher, or when Mom grounded Penny for a month over a dented bumper that had actually been a successful frame-job by Theo. 
She never got used to it when that icy stare was directed at her. Theo shivered and said, “Okay.”


Easier said than done – much easier said than done. But obviously Penny wasn’t messing around and Theo’s well of excuses had run dry. It didn’t matter if Theo had crippling agoraphobia, or if her boss needed her to work through the weekend, or if she was so sick she was actually dead. 
She was going to freaking Vegas in April.


Lesfic Book Club: Behind the Pine Curtain

For our August meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Gerri Hill’s novel, Behind the Pine Curtain. 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

Gerri Hill

Howdy!

Reader 1

So glad you could join us

Gerri Hill

My pleasure.

Reader 2

Hi Gerri! I just started another of your books, Love Waits, while in the car. Lol

Gerri Hill

Love Waits…another oldie!

Reader 3

Is this where I squee? 

Reader 1

Yes

Reader 4

Welcome Gerri, thanks for joining us!

Gerri Hill

Hi Reader 4

Reader 3

Squeeeeee!

Reader 2

While I’m too poor to buy everything I want, I’m using the library and going through your back catalog

Gerri Hill

I hope you enjoy them!

Reader 2

Always

Reader 4

So, let’s get this party started

What did you all think of Behind the Pine Curtain?

Reader 2

Really good. But I want to know what happens next

Reader 1

Loved it, as all her books so far! 

Reader 3

I liked it as much as the first time that I read it, which is to say a lot.

Reader 2

I had to remind myself that yeah, it’s very possible to be that clueless while living in a small town.

Reader 5

I really enjoyed it, in some ways especially because it felt like the town I grew up in (which had a big lumber heritage)

Reader 2

What I loved was how Kay went from, oh, wait, this is a thing to, I’m taking control of this thing.

Gerri Hill

It’s been a lot of years since I wrote this, but I think Jackie was early 30s. So she grew up in the 70s/early 80s….and yes, a very small, conservative town in East Texas.

Those places still exist today, sadly.

Reader 2

It’s very similar to when I was growing up. The only thing that saved me was Ellen coming out, otherwise I had no clue.

That timing helps too.

Even in the 2000’s I would bet a lot of the residents didn’t have high speed internet.

Reader 3

What was your favorite thing to write when writing this book?

Reader 6

Hi @Gerri Hill. Do you have any experience of working in a business, managing people? I liked Jackie’s management skills!

Gerri Hill

Since it’s been so long, I’ll have to guess on favorite. I enjoyed Rose. I enjoyed the scenes at the Blue Hole.

I did have a job managing people, yes. I think Jackie was better at it than I was!

READER 7

What is the favorite book you’ve written so far?

Personally mine is Keepers of the Cave

Gerri Hill

I have a few. Keepers of the Cave popped into my mind first, so I’ll go with that one too! I love CJ and Paige. If you have a chance to listen to the audio version, Abby Craden did a wonderful job with CJ.

READER 7

Yes she did! Abby is one of my favorite narrators

Reader 1

I plan to listen to it this week

Gerri Hill

At Seventeen is a favorite too.

Reader 2

That series is truly amazing on audio.

Gerri Hill

The Secret Pond made me cry in places when I wrote it, so it is special to me. I loved Jack.

Reader 1

My favorite SO far is The Killing Room or The Locket.

READER 7

You’ve written quite a few “crime drama” romances, with KotC being one of them. Is that a favorite trope of yours?

Reader 2

How do you choose what story to write? Since you span genres, is it a matter of whatever idea is pulling at you?

Reader 1

Yes Jack is my favorite character overall so far. She was the sweetest.

Gerri Hill

I like both “murder mystery” and “romance” so I don’t really have a favorite. Romance is much easier to write.

Reader 3

Who are some of your favorite authors, lesfic and non-lesfic?

Gerri Hill

After writing a crime novel, I usually go back to a romance, so it’s normally every other book.

Reader 6

I feel quite smug that this is the second of your books I’ve read, so I have plenty to look forward to. Recommendation for which to read next? Secret Pond is the other.

Reader 8

How do you plot out your books? Is the villain at the beginning always the villain in the end? Or does your story changes as it grows?  (Sorry for the delay. Been driving and I don’t want to get yelled at for texting… lol)

Gerri Hill

I have several ideas that I’m bouncing around now so that’s the hard part, trying to decide which one to focus on for the next book.

READER 7

In regards to our club book, Behind the Pine Curtain, the letter from Jackie’s father pulled at my heartstrings. Was there inspiration for that or did it just come to you?

And now we have all three Texans in the room at once. Lord, help y’all

Gerri Hill

I rewrote the letter probably ten times before I had it where I liked it.

No outside inspiration, really.

READER 7

You did a very good job with it

Gerri Hill

Thank you.

Reader 4

What’s your favorite part of a romance to write?

READER 7

@Reader 8 Had a good question. How do you plot your books, and is the villain the same person from the moment you start to the moment you finish?

Gerri Hill

The first kiss!

Reader 3

I love that Kay’s mother knew the whole time and was just waiting for Kay to figure things out.

Gerri Hill

I normally will only use an outline on the murder mystery type books. As far as plotting, I have several points I want to make but usually several others will come up as I’m writing. The villain is not always the one I started with no. The Killing Room, for example. I was more than halfway through that book before I decided on who the killer would be.

Yes, Kay’s mother was so sweet at the end when she gave Kay the push she needed.

Reader 2

Do you know what happened to them after the book? Was there a lot of backlash? Or was Jackie all, fuck you, I own this town and you guys can suck it.

Reader 1

Crazy…no wonder it was a good twist although it was my first guess on the killer. I really loved The Killing Room 

READER 7

The Killing Room was amazing. I’ve read it a few times and it’s just as good every time

Gerri Hill

I don’t like to tie up all my books at the end (as some of you know if you’ve read a lot of mine)…so Pine Curtain was no different! What do YOU think happened?

Reader 2

Pretty much like that lol

Gerri Hill

The Killing Room will be out on audio in a few weeks (Abby Craden again) so I’m looking forward to that.

Reader 2

But do you have future in mind, even if you never write it?

You don’t have to share it, just curious. Or are you done with a book, publish it, and start the next one.

READER 7

I’m still trying to decide if Kay would move away to California or if she would convince Jackie to come run the town with her, “like when we were kids!”

Gerri Hill

No…I find it hard to leave characters behind.

Reader 5

This was the first of yours I had read and I remember being simultaneously “that was a wonderful final scene” and also “but I really want another chapter or two to find out what happens next”

Gerri Hill

I do have an idea of what happens next…I just don’t always write it!

Reader 2

Fair

i can see a bunch of Gerri Hill fanfic being created now.

Reader 4

I like that, leaves it up to the readers. Especially with Kay and Jackie since they do have two very different paths they could take

READER 7

I’ll have to pick up that audio when it comes out

Gerri Hill

Artist’s Dream…I think I got more “but what happens? The letters?”

Reader 1

Lol that’s my next book I plan on reading actually. Lol

READER 7

Oh I forgot about that one! I have a hard copy in my bookshelf. I’ll have to pick that one up again

Reader 1

If you could write a sequel to any of your books which would it be?

READER 7

Is there a favorite area you like to base your books in?

Reader 5

I also wanted to just compliment you, because I usually am very impatient when things take a long time to happen after I’ve guessed they’re going to happen. And while it took a long time in the book for Jackie and Kay to get there, I didn’t have the feeling that any of the obstacles were gratuitous or artificial: it all seemed like genuine bumps in the road to get there

Gerri Hill

Sequel? I’d probably write one for Artist’s Dream because there was a lot left hanging. And I adored Luke!

READER 7

That is very true. This book was…almost painfully realistic. I loved that about it

Gerri Hill

Favorite area? Got to be Colorado! or the Gulf Coast.

READER 7

I’m still not entirely convinced I don’t know Rene

Gerri Hill

Thank you, Reader 5.

Reader 1

Lol

Reader 3

Which of your books would you most want to see turned into a movie?

Gerri Hill

That’s tough. Hunter’s Way, I think.

Reader 1

YES!!!

Gerri Hill

Devil’s Rock, maybe.

Reader 1

I would love that as a movie!!

Reader 2

As a now coloradan, I approve of setting books here

Reader 1

The scene in the sewer drain pipe place was my favorite scene!!

READER 7

Yes!

Reader 1

It made me laugh SO hard

Gerri Hill

“Well shoot it!”

READER 7

“I’m not gonna shoot it, this is it’s home!”

Reader 1

Thats basically how I would react

READER 7

I could not have planned that any better lol

Reader 1

It’s the scene that practically brought them closer

Gerri Hill

Yes it is.

READER 7

Have any of your books ever surprised you with the way they ended?

Reader 1

I still need to read Both the sequels.

Gerri Hill

No. I usually have a clear ending in mind, at least as the book goes along.

Reader 1

So the ending of The Killing Room didn’t surprise you fully then?

Gerri Hill

The ending where Jake leaves? Or the ending as to who the killer was?

Reader 1

Let’s go with both? Though I saw Jake leaving.

It only made sense she’d leave

Gerri Hill

Jake leaving, getting injured again was always in my plans. I hadn’t really worked out how Nicole was going to leave though. Maybe it was a little surprise as to the killer was!

Reader 2

(Spoilers!)

Reader 1

Hm. I can see that. Nicole was a tough nut to crack specially when she was going by what “society” thought. Rather then her own feeling. I felt sad for her

Reader 2

Gerri, do you have a writing office? Do you need quiet or noise?

Gerri Hill

Quiet. I have an office with lots of windows. I get distracted by the bird feeders though!

Reader 1

Lol

Reader 4

Is there any part of writing or starting a new project that you dread?

Gerri Hill

The first chapter!

First chapters are hard to write.

Getting names right too

Reader 1

Tell me about it. I’ve been stuck for months lol

Gerri Hill

I’ll sometimes change names halfway through because the one I’d picked just didn’t fit the character once I got going.

Reader 1

Lol nice

Reader 3

Is there a name you tend to use a lot without realizing it until after you’ve done it?

Gerri Hill

For some reason, “A” names always pop into my head for secondary characters.

Amy was Sam’s best friend. I used Amy in another book…was well into the book, then I remembered and duh….

READER 7

You’ve tackled a lot of hard hitting issues in your book, everything from sexual assault to abandonment. Is there anything you absolutely refuse to put a character through?

Reader 9

I’ve read Storms and One Summers Night whilst here on hols. I also have The Rainbow Cedar, Coyote Sky and The Scorpion with me. Which should be next? Or should it be Georgia Beers Mine?

Reader 2

Just keep binging.

Gerri Hill

I think I’ve put my characters through all the tough ones already!

READER 7

The Rainbow Cedar is super cute

Reader 9

I’ve got loads of Gerri’s books. My fave is the gulf coast one but I can’t remember the name

Reader 4

Any advice you would give to an aspiring author, either on the creative side or the publishing end?

Reader 3

If all of your characters were to meet at a large party or other kind of gathering what should we expect to happen?

Gerri Hill

Advice? Write what you know and write for yourself.

Reader 8

Who’s background was the hardest to write / put the character through?

Gerri Hill

Party….wow, that would be fun!

READER 7

Oh my gosh I would totally read a major mash up book

Gerri Hill

I found Cameron Ross’s background hard for some reason.

And of course CJ’s…..that was hard.

Reader 2

Poor CJ

READER 7

Without any spoilers, CJ’s was hard to read

But I felt it really made her a better character and a better cop

Reader 2

Which is why I was extra happy when things worked out

READER 7

Still bar none my favorite book and my favorite two characters

Reader 2

They are awesome

Reader 4

Can’t get an endorsement better than that!

Gerri Hill

I keep thinking I’ll do a third book with them….

Reader 2

Please

READER 7

I’d buy it in a heartbeat!

Reader 2

Besides, the guys are fun to read too.

READER 7

Omg yes. The present. I cracked up laughing

Reader 8

I love that your characters are fully threshed out and developed. How much research goes into the books before you begin?

Reader 2

(no spoilers, but yea… that was amazing)

Reader 9

Which book is CJ etc in please?

READER 7

Keepers of the Cave is the first one

Reader 2

and weeping walls

Gerri Hill

Research depends on the subject matter, really. I’m working on a book now that involves a psychic….tons of research!

Reader 2

and the audio is phenomenol

READER 7

Oh cool!!!!

Reader 2

yes!

Do you have an eta?

Reader 8

Ahhh. That’s why I’m confused. I’m not that far into the previous releases. Must catch up!

Reader 3

There is a lot.

Reader 8

Rock on!

READER 7

Back to the names thing, are there any names that are a no go?

Reader 2

Those are from 2012 and 2013 Peri, but the audio is recent

Reader 3

I think I’ve only read about a third of what I see listed on Goodreads.

Reader 9

I stayed away from the crime ones but I think one of the ones I said is one of them that I have with me??

Gerri Hill

Names? I don’t think there are any that are “no” ….but picking names is one of the hard parts of writing…at least to me!

READER 7

@Reader 9 the Scorpion

Reader 2

I wasn’t sure about the crime ones (Keepers and weeping walls), but I recommend them. They were a lot funnier than expected and the romance aspect is really nice.

Reader 8

What authors do you admire?

(Cause I admire you. Always looking up lol)

Gerri Hill

Authors with longevity! Karin Kallmaker, for instance. I now know how hard it is to write for many years and keep things fresh.

Honestly, I don’t get to read much, if at all.

Reader 8

Karin Kallmaker is the ultimate for me, too. She saved my life with her early novels.

READER 7

I don’t think I’ve ever read her

Gerri Hill

I have a shelf with books that I’ve purchased, waiting to read. But there is little time between books for me.

Reader 8

Would you change anything from your previous novels? If you could do them over again?

Reader 9

Gerri, do you ever wish you were in your books living the life of a character?

Yeah! I thought I’d ventured out and been brave. Might make that the next

Reader 2

As the only lesfic author I’ve met in person I can say Karin is so sweet and awesome.

Gerri Hill

I would do One Summer Night over again!

That was my very first book and I think it’s awful!

Reader 8

What would you change?

Gerri Hill

Some of the dialogue for sure. The pace seems slow.

Reader 2

But it got you started

Gerri Hill

I wish I’d been in No Strings!

Reader 2

That’s on my tbr list for sure

READER 7

Also a good one

Which character would you want to be in No Strings?

Gerri

I think Morgan.

READER 7

She’s feisty lol

How long does it usually take you from the time you start typing to the time the book hits the shelf? Is there a specific process for you?

Gerri Hill

The writing part takes anywhere from 4 months to six, for me.

Publishing dates are set a year in advance, at least.

Reader 4

Do you work on just one book for that 4-6 month period or are you a multi-project kind of writer?

Reader 2

Do you struggle with deadlines?

Gerri Hill

I try to write every day, but that’s not always the case.

I only work on one book at a time.

READER 7

If writing wasn’t an option, what other type of work do you think you’d do?

Gerri Hill

I’m usually ahead of my deadlines!

What would I do or what would I like to do? I’d love to paint….I’m just not talented enough!

Reader 9

My internet keeps crashing so I’ll say goodnight (or afternoon for you US dudes). Thanks Gerri, been very interesting reading all about you

Gerri Hill

Thank you!

READER 7

What inspired you to be an author?

Or even to write in general?

Gerri Hill

I ran out of books to read one winter in Colorado!

So I started my own story.

Reader 4

That’s awesome

But now I’m picturing this taking place at the Overlook Hotel

Reader 8

Hahahhaa. All work and no play makes Gerri a famous author?

Gerri Hill

It was a cold, snowy cabin at about 10k feet and I had no water!

Reader 8

No water?? Whoa.

Reader 2

I literally had this discusison with a client yesterday. She rents out a tiny one room cabin in the foothills and it has no water once it freezes.

Gerri Hill

I call it “the time I was snowed in”

Reader 2

and was inspired to write Snow Falls?

Gerri Hill

Yes, actually!

Reader 2

I could see that happening so easily.

READER 7

Dang it I was gonna ask that

Reader 2

Too slow bud

Reader 3

I need to reread that.

Reader 2

Maybe this winter

READER 7

I had to remember the title. I’m bad with title names

Reader 2

That sounds like fun actually. Read every Gerri Hill book set in Colorado this winter.

(I cheated and used goodreads haha)

Reader 3

That was my other choice for this month’s book club meeting.

Reader 4

Reading challenge

READER 7

I don’t remember if we’ve asked this, but do you have a favorite character you’ve written?

Gerri Hill

I hate to keep bringing up CJ….

Reader 2

we love CJ too

Gerri Hill

Tori was kinda fun

READER 7

Definitely my favorite, CJ

Any chance of a CJ/Tori crossover that’s NOT angel fire?

Gerri Hill

I don’t think so.

READER 7

Awwwww

Reader 2

But another CJ book would work

We’ll help you promote the crap out of it.

Gerri Hill

lol

Well….if you’re through with me….I need to get ready for company popping over in about 45 min.

Reader 4

Thanks for chatting with us, Gerri!

Gerri Hill

I’ve enjoyed the chat!

READER 7

It was a pleasure chatting with you!

Lisa

Thank you for your time.

Reader 2

Thanks Gerri!

READER 7

Thanks for putting up with us!

Reader 8

THANK YOU So much for being here!!

Gerri Hill

If you ever have questions or comments…shoot me an email or FB message!

Lesfic Book Club: Mergers & Acquisitions

For our July meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed AE Radley’s novel, Mergers & Acquisitions. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below.

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A couple of notes on the transcript:

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

A.E. Radley

Hi @Reader 1! Hi everyone

Reader 2

welcome!

Reader 1

so excited your here with us!

READER 3

Hey there

A.E. Radley

I’m excited to be here!

Reader 4

hello!!

Reader 5

Welcome!

Reader 1

I love your writing…as we all know. I followed you when you were writing fanfiction. your books are even more enjoyable

A.E. Radley

Aww thanks @Reader 1 I really appreciate you saying that!

Reader 6

Where did you get your inspiration from to enable you to write M & A?

A.E. Radley

M&A was originally a fan fiction piece, I’m sure some of you will recognise some of the characteristics of the characters. I’d previously written some Devil Wears Prada and was then writing Supergirl (Supercat) and thought I’d try my hand at a crossover of the two!

Reader 1

Yes I kinda picked that up…

SuperCat is my favorite along with SuperCorp…obviously

Reader 2

I don’t read fan fiction, so I go into every book as if it’s simply a book.

Ultimately, every story has inspiration from somewhere anyway.

A.E. Radley

I stopped watching once Cat left so I never got to SuperCorp… was too bitter that my fav ice queen had left!

Reader 6

Your books never contain much intimacy and no sex. Is that

a) because you get too embarrassed

b) you don’t think it’s relevant to your stories

c) you’re crap at writing them

Or

d) all of the above?

I love your books, this isn’t a trick question

Reader 1

It kinda dragged after she left but I still watch religiously for I love Katie McGrath she’s my dream ever since Merlin

Reader 7

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

A.E. Radley

Great question @Reader 6 I was once told that every single lesbian fiction book, regardless of genre, must have a sex scene or, preferable, several sex scenes… or they’d never sell. I thought that was wrong, I don’t like stories where sex has been crammed in just so the book can be called romance and have a chance of selling more copies. So I didn’t put sex into my first two, and then the third didn’t need it, and by then I’d received messages from people thanking me for not including sex scenes. So I kind of carried on!

Reader 1

Can we please get a sequel. I need more of Kate and her back story. I feel like Georgina kinda monopolized it for a bit.

Reader 6

Thank you

Reader 2

It’s funny, I don’t even notice the lack of sex scenes. I know they aren’t there, but you write so well without them that it works out well.

Reader 1

I like the falling in love part of romance anyway lol

Reader 8

Yes, I hadn’t noticed that there wasn’t one until the question was answered here!

A.E. Radley

@Reader 7 Not too much, I’ve worked in advertising and I’ve worked in London, and I actually worked for an eccentric Greek called Yannis… so luckily it was quite light on research

Reader 1

Nice

A.E. Radley

@Reader 1 I always say never say never when it comes to sequels, I do sometimes revisit certain stories (I’m writing a sequel to Bring Holly Home right now) but nothing is currently in the pipeline with this particular book.

Reader 6

Where oh where did you dream up the barge chase in Huntress from. I laughed so hard and I won it in one of your comps which makes it even more special to me

Reader 1

please please please think about one… lol

Reader 6

Seconded

And another sequel to the big uneasy

Please

Reader 1

I’m in the middle of reading Going Up right now and I really enjoy Selina she’s a hoot

A.E. Radley

@Reader 6 I’d just moved to Stoke-on-Trent which has a lot of canals (pottery was made here so it was shipped in and out by the canals). Literally outside my house is a canal and I went for a walk one day and this woman who must have been a hundred years old was walking along the canal path and she was pacing this beefy looking man on a narrowboat, and it just hit me how ridiculous it was that this feeble old woman was easily matching him for speed. From there it was a simple jump to make it into a “slow speed chase”

Reader 2

I like that your books break the rules. We already discussed the lack of sex scenes, but in this book you broke the ‘rule’ of making it obvious who would end up with who. Working with three main characters made for an interesting read.

Reader 5

Agreed! I’ve never seen DWP (gasp) so I had my guess but wasn’t sure

Reader 6

I love it. Huntress is a fantastic book. The other lol was the visual in my mind of Amy stuck with her feet in the air out of the car boot

A.E. Radley

I’m really lucky because I always get messages from people asking for sequels, but it does mean that every time I release a book… people read it and then want a sequel. So now I wait a while and see which ones still get asked for months later, Bring Holly Home is a frequent one and M&A is quite high up there too so it is on my radar

Reader 6

Huntress and Big Uneasy too please please please

A.E. Radley

@Reader 2 I’m just stubborn, if someone tells me not to do something… I’m quite likely to try and do it. I was told to put sex scenes in or I’d be a failure, so I’ve never written one. I was also told that lesfic readers don’t like hard topics, so Going Up is about homelessness.

Reader 2

Also, I loved that Jessica saved the day in the end. Because I was all, sure, the elevator will totally work. lol

Reader 1

I love the hard topics

Reader 6

That’s rubbish, I enjoy a book that’s well written with great characters and a fantastic story. End. Of.

Reader 9

I’m ace, and finding really good lesfic with a beautiful love story not centered around sex is like finding a priceless gem. And the “hard topics”? Those are the stories that need to be told.

Reader 4

What’s your process like? Did you always know that it would be Kate and Sophie in the end?

A.E. Radley

@Reader 4 Because I was currently writing Supercat, it was always going to be Kate and Sophie because that’s essentially Cat and Kara. But I always plot all of my books out from the start, I don’t start properly writing until I have a full outline. This is my full time job these days so I want to make sure I’m as productive as possible and for me that means scheduling and planning!

Reader 5

Amen!

A.E. Radley

@Reader 6 I agree! I think some people under estimate readers, there doesn’t need to be a formula

Reader 1

exactly. I think that’s why I loved Kate from the get go…I had the Cat vibes the entire time. lol

formula’s are overrated

A.E. Radley

@Reader 5 you have to watch DWP… I’m pretty sure it just became law?

Reader 5

I think so too – and I wouldn’t do well in jail

Reader 2

Looks like I’d join you because I haven’t seen it either.

Reader 6

Make that three of us

Reader 1

blasphemy

Reader 5

Gonna have to have a movie night

A.E. Radley

Shocking.

Reader 10

Book was different. Not better or worse, surprisingly

Reader 2

Time is a thing…

Reader 6

There’s a lot of the same type of books, Eg ice queen and younger woman etc.

I’d love to read one where the ice queen meets/falls for an older woman. I don’t recall any like that out there

A.E. Radley

@Reader 6 I don’t know of any, but then I’m not particularly well read in the genre. I did recently make a note about something similar, a young icy executive falling for someone much older. But I didn’t get that far into plotting it yet… watch this space!

Reader 6

Yeah!!!! I will because as much as I love the others something different is always welcome

Reader 11

Bit late to the party but which of your books do you suggest I read next? This was my first!

A.E. Radley

@Reader 11 head over to my Twitter account and on the pinned post you will see a link to download The Road Ahead for free https://twitter.com/A_E_Radley

Reader 6

Road ahead is fantastic @Reader 11

Reader 2

Huntress is a must.

Reader 6

Seconded @Reader 2

Reader 2

And while it isn’t the book for this club, I really enjoyed Second Chances.

Reader 5

Do you have a lot of plot bunnies lying around or do you prefer to work on one thing at a time?

A.E. Radley

@Reader 5 I have a schedule for the next four/five books I’m going to write, but sometimes something will slip in and move everything back. Whenever I get an idea, I email myself with the subject line “Story Note”. Then every now and then I’ll reply to that email and flesh out the idea a little and by the time I get to that project it’s pretty much complete. But I only actually work on one at a time, writing wise!

Reader 5

Oh interesting, I like the emails to self

Reader 2

It’s old school to me. Definitely handy

Reader 6

Do you and Emma have separate offices? How is she doing now?

A.E. Radley

I travel a lot and you never know when the shadow of an idea will pop up. I was in Paris last week and saw something that triggered an idea and just dropped myself a quick email, when I got back to the hotel I’d forgotten all about it, so was very glad to see the email pop up! Really works well for me

@Reader 6 Emma’s doing well, she had the all clear from her doctor back in April and has her second check up next month and will continue with those for the next four years… but hopefully everything has been resolved. We have separate offices because I love her to bits but she’s bloody noisy and I need silence to write!

Reader 6

Lol, do you have a roster for coffee/tea duties

Glad to hear she’s in rem

Reader 9

And what would she say is the best thing about having separate offices from you?

Reader 6

Ooh love that question Reader 9

A.E. Radley

Emma mainly gets me tea to be honest, but that’s just because I get stuck and then hours go by. If she didn’t feed and water me, I’d be dead

Reader 2

were you both writers when you met?

A.E. Radley

She’d probably say that she doesn’t have to worry about disturbing me… she’s super sweet and aware of everyone else’s needs before her own!

Reader 9

Awwwwww

A.E. Radley

@Reader 2 We’d both written fan fiction casually but we weren’t writers as such

Reader 2

Who took the publishing jump first?

A.E. Radley

That was me, Ylva Publishing contacted me and asked if I wanted to take Flight SQA016 from a fan fiction story into a published novel.

Reader 6

I read recently that you’re bi. Another great bi writer told me she’d received hate mail but it’s gotten better recently. Have you had any issues, hate mail?

A.E. Radley

@Reader 6 loads, it was really bad when I first started because I just strolled into some Facebook groups and mentioned I had this book out and they were currently bashing bisexuals, so I stepped in and said I was one… which didn’t go down too well! I got told to leave “lesfic” and find my own group, blah blah. I just ignored it and got louder. I used to be a quiet, reserved bisexual but now I’m very loud about it

Reader 2

I suspect there’s a lot of overlap between bi bashers and terfs. Glad you didn’t back down.

Reader 6

That’s really sad because the community works hard to be accepted then people start to discriminate who should know better

A.E. Radley

@Reader 2 definitely, there’s a few of the same old names who don’t want bisexuals or men anywhere near their precious books. But when you ask “do you only want murderers to write your crime novels?” they don’t have any answer.

Reader 2

Lol fair question.

Reader 9

There’s a really good lesfic fantasy novel plus sequel that I love that is written by a dude. and it’s great! and I don’t give a f*ck

A.E. Radley

@Reader 6 exactly, I was quite naive at first because I assumed that a minority group would support, welcome and protect a similar minority. It really wasn’t the case… but on the bright side, having the vocal discussions with these people meant I found a huge number of supportive people who stood up for me.

Reader 2

Plus they would be shocked at how many lesfic authors are bi or pan.

Reader 1

right i’ve come to notice that

Reader 10

Sorry to interrupt. I have questions on your writing process.

It seems youre more plotter than pantser. How much of your storylines and individual scenes are plotted in advance, versus written on the fly?

Reader 6

Funnily enough he reminds me of my girl crush Ashlyn Harris

Reader 1

oh my

Reader 10

Not including the waiting time, how long does it take from sitting down to start a novel, to the day you hit publish?

Reader 2

Back on topic… what books are coming next

A.E. Radley

@Reader 10 I plot the entire thing before I start writing, so I’ll have an idea of what is going to happen and then fit that into a narrative. For example, Going Up was going to be about a homeless woman and the ice queen who wants rid of her but will also want to help her. From there I’ll build the setting and then will literally write out each chapter, the POV and what happens. So C1 – Kate POV – Kate introduced in situation outside the office. C2 – Selina POV – Selina on the phone to solicitor, sees Kate in the car park etc… all the way until I have the outline. Then I’ll start writing.

Reader 10

How often do you deviate from outlines?

If you ever do.

A.E. Radley

I schedule myself six weeks to write a novel, I’ll have about three to four days doing that outline, then I’ll start actually writing. I’ll have the odd day off during that six weeks or I’ll break my body. Then my copy editor has it for two weeks, then the proof reader has it for about 3/4 weeks depending how busy she is. I stagger my releases, so I have a book ready to go now and I’m writing the one after it. By the time I release the next one in the queue, the second will be in editing and I’ll be onto the third.

Reader 6

Wow that’s some serious plotting there.

READER 3

Some serious planning, too

Reader 6

I think I meant that

Reader 10

Daaaaamn. That’s intense. And impressive. And. Wow.

How many do you plan on publishing before 2020?

READER 3

Have you always been a plotter, or is it something you picked up along the way? (Sorry if that’s already been answered)

Reader 7

Speaking of plotting, if you were to take over the world how would you go about doing it?

A.E. Radley

@Reader 2 next is Lost at Sea! I went on a cruise recently and I wrote about an identity thieving stowaway and the captain… that will be out in September

Reader 5

Just saw the cover for that on Facebook – gorgeous!

Reader 1

sounds riveting can’t wait for it

Reader 10

Does your wife read your stuff while it’s being written? Or does she wait? (Sorry if it’s been discussed.)

A.E. Radley

@Reader 10 sometimes I do change the story as I’m writing, but it’s rare. And if it ever happens, it’s minor and will just be something in the last third of the book. If I think a scene is redundant; I’ll dump it. That kind of thing!

@Reader 10 I have a super secret project coming out next month, then Lost at Sea will be September, and then Bring Holly Home #2 is out in November. I’m a bit behind this year as Emma was sick last year and I took some time out over Christmas 2018!

Reader 10

Follow-up. Do you see the scenes in your head when youre plotting them?

A.E. Radley

@READER 3 I’ve not always been a plotter, but I wrote a couple of stories I couldn’t finish back in my fan fiction days… or they ran on and on and ended up being 200,000 words… so I realised I needed a strict plan to stick to!

READER 3

I think 200k words would kill me dead

A.E. Radley

@Reader 7 taking over the world would seriously impact my writing schedule, I need a runaway hit to live off and then I’ll start that… I believe it’s done through Facebook advertising so shouldn’t be too hard

Reader 5

Haha yup, just keep feeding Facebook what it likes

Reader 1

does make life easier haha

Reader 6

If you could pick a magical power would it be

a) being invisible

b) being able to fly

c) x-ray vision

d) teleporting?

Reader 1

that’s a hard choice…

can I pick all of the above…lol if not at least 2 of them

A.E. Radley

That is SO hard! I’d have to say a) then I could spy on people or be left alone when I wanted. Unless I can teleport WITH someone, then d and Emma and I would travel more!

Reader 1

love that answer

A.E. Radley

@Reader 10 yes, most of my ideas come from one particular scene in my head and then the novel grows from that. So I do often picture the other scenes as I’m writing!

Reader 6

I would always pick a) so I could earwig, be a fly on the wall and cause maximum mayhem to the people I don’t like

A.E. Radley

@Reader 10 because Emma and I both write so much, it’s hard to keep up with each other’s novels so we don’t really read much of each other’s work!

Reader 10

makes sense. Though I think youre both missing out in that case.

Reader 5

Do you have a favorite part of the writing process?

Reader 6

Writing the words ‘The End’

A.E. Radley

@Reader 5 probably the last third of the story, when everything is getting (hopefully) exciting and we’re getting to the point of the story… and nearly finished… because that’s a pretty great bit as well!

Reader 6

Can you tell us the blurb for Holly bk 2? Please?

Reader 10

Seconded. Please. Pretty please. With cherries on top

A.E. Radley

I haven’t written it! I can tell you the title… it’s Keep Holly Close. I usually write the blurb just before I release the book (a few weeks after the cover and editing has been done) because then I’ve been working on something else and can come up with a short snappy blurb because I’m not too involved with it

Reader 6

Beep, first strike, please try again!

Reader 10

What’s the hardest part of writing a novel?

Reader 1

I’ve noticed you have a thing for the name Johnathon – It’s a very popular name in your books. do you find coming up with names easy or hard?

A.E. Radley

@Reader 10 for me, it’s not taking too long a break because then getting back into the process can be quite difficult. I have a truly terrible memory so I need to have a clear run at a novel with as few breaks as possible. Sometimes life or a broken body makes that hard!

Reader 10

So, it isnt the writing exactly, but the life that tends to interrupt it? Maybe?

A.E. Radley

@Reader 1 I hate coming up with names, Huntress had six… yes, six, David’s in it. Every single man that they came across was called David. My editor caught them and I had to go back and come up with different names! But I’m far worse with male characters because they usually don’t play a very important part in the story… sorry boys!

@Reader 10 yes, and lack of memory skills! Having to keep all the threads going

Reader 6

You could google top 100 boys names?

Reader 2

I had three Jon’s between two books too. 😉

Reader 1

haha totally agree there. boys names are hard. unless your using them as girl names haha

A.E. Radley

@Reader 6 I do that more now… I think it was just as I was writing I came up with a man’s name quickly in order to carry on writing… so they are all Jonathan or David!

Might carry on that trend! A.E. Radley, no sex and everyone is called Jonathan or David

Reader 2

Lol yep

Reader 1

there you go

READER 3

My characters are all named after the people they are 100% NOT based on. Because, you know…it’s fictional.

Reader 6

John Doe, wonder if anyone has used that very much, like ever?

Reader 1

for dead bodies or missing identities lol

Reader 6

So will you never ever write a sex scene,? You came close in the big uneasy almost last page and then ….. nope

Ha ha I’m being pedantic

A.E. Radley

I have a bad guy in a book and I named him after my brother… because he was a brat 25 years ago. Writers always remember

I probably will at some point, something really graphic just so all the proper ladies safely reading my books drop their monocles into their teacups.

Reader 6

Save it for the big uneasy sequel. You could pick it up from where Rebecca’s in the park….

A.E. Radley

And call it “The Moderately Easy”

Reader 6

Or ‘so you think I’m easy?’

Reader 1

yes please let it be M&A sequel when you get around to it!!

A.E. Radley

Okay, I have time for a couple more questions if anyone has any?

Reader 10

Is there any chapter or plot point you would rewrite?

In any of your books.

Reader 1

which book is your favorite so far?

Reader 7

Is there are genre outside of lesbian romance you’ve thought about attempting? And is there a genre you will probably never attempt?

A.E. Radley

@Reader 10 I’d rewrite a lot of Flight and Grounded because I didn’t get to have the final say in those!

@Reader 1 Bring Holly Home is my favourite, I was happy with the storyline coming together the way it did and people seemed to respond well to it so that was nice!

Reader 1

nice.

A.E. Radley

@Reader 7 I have published a crime book, it had been sitting on my hard drive half completed for ten years so I decided to just get it out there in the end! As for genres I’d never attempt, straight romance!

Reader 7

So fantasy with dragons and magic is not on the blacklist?

A.E. Radley

No, although Emma would be much better at that than I would be! I’m not a big fantasy fan, but then it just takes the correct inspiration!

Reader 10

Oooh, making a tinderbox was excellent. Yes.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your Sunday night to answer our questions! I have to put pants on and go grocery shopping.

Thank you!

A.E. Radley

You’re welcome! I better get going as well. Thank you all for coming along, and for reading my books! I really appreciate it

Reader 2

Do you have any questions for us?

We appreciate you writing them

Reader 4

thanks for writing them!

Reader 2

They are always entertaining and different

A.E. Radley

Thank you, @Reader 2!

Have a lovely Sunday everyone!

Sneak Peek: Love Trauma

Krys Stevens is the best trauma doctor at Lakeside Hospital. She runs the ER like a finely choreographed dance, she has coworkers she calls friends, and she’s a superstar at the free clinic where she volunteers. What more could an ambitious young doctor want? One day, a patient arrives in the ER intubated with a ballpoint pen and changes everything – that’s how Krys meets Darcy, a former combat medic and a woman after her own heart.

My latest novel, LOVE TRAUMA, is available now on Amazon. Read the first chapter below.

Graduation day was a warm May afternoon and for about an hour, Krys Stevens was able to ignore the pager clipped to her hip.

That was pretty rare for her. She’d been working in the emergency department of Lakeside Hospital for almost five years and she could count on one hand the number of times she requested a day off. She always jumped to answer every page and took any extra shifts she could because there was nowhere in the world she’d rather be than in the ER, saving lives.

But today the hospital would have to get by without Krys Stevens because she was here to watch her friends become doctors.

She found a seat near the bottom of the bleachers of Northwestern’s stadium, where she might be able to catch the attention of Megan, Ivy and Chloe as they walked across the stage set up in the center of the football field. There were thousands of other people there, proud parents and friends, but Krys wanted the girls to know she’d come to support them. They were an eclectic bunch, worming their way into her life by force at times, but she had grown to love them by now.

Krys was in her seat and ready for the ceremony to start by eleven-fifteen, and she had about forty-five minutes to kill. Fortunately for her, she’d planned to get some work done while she waited. She had a rolled-up medical journal tucked under her arm along with the graduation program she’d been handed at the stadium entrance, but first she had a few emails to catch up on.

That was one thing about the ER that she’d never gotten used to – no matter how efficiently she triaged and treated her patients, the paperwork never stopped piling up. The possibility of coming out to support her friends and then getting some work done while everyone else crossed the stage was appealing in more ways than one.

She was just tapping out a reply on her phone to Russell, her boss at the free clinic where she moonlighted, when she heard someone shout, “Krys! Hey, Krys Stevens!”

She looked up – it might be like finding a needle in a haystack to locate the source of her name in a crowd of thousands. But then a couple of hands went up and she saw some familiar faces. There was Alex – Megan’s fiancée – and Dr. Thomas from the pediatrics department standing up and waving to her from a few rows over.

Krys waved back and Alex cupped her hands around her mouth to shout, “Come sit with us!”

Krys looked longingly down at her medical journal – The Annals of Emergency Medicine, which she’d been intending to read for weeks now – and then tucked it under her arm and picked her way across the rows of bleachers to them.

“Hi,” she said as she slid into a seat at the end of the row.

“We thought you’d be working, or else we would have invited you to come with us,” Dr. Thomas said.

She was wearing a flowing floral dress and she looked exactly the same as she did in the hospital, minus the white coat and stethoscope.

Alex, on the other hand, looked like a whole new woman without her navy paramedic’s uniform. Krys saw her on a daily basis in the ER and she hardly recognized the girl with the carefully curled hair and the feminine-cut blouse sitting in front of her. Then again, Krys didn’t look much like herself today, either.

She’d foregone her usual utilitarian ponytail, for one thing, and she felt out of sorts without her hospital scrubs.

“I’m glad you came,” Alex said. “It’ll mean a lot to the girls. Have you met Megan’s parents?”

She gestured further down the bleachers to a woman who was unmistakably Megan’s mom, complete with fiery red hair and delicate freckles across the bridge of her nose. Beside her sat a man with a warm smile and his arm around his wife’s shoulders. Krys reached down the row to them, shaking their hands over Alex and Lily’s laps.

“Are Ivy and Chloe’s parents here?” she asked.

“Yeah, but they drove separately and we haven’t been able to locate them,” Alex said. “It’s okay – we’ll catch up with them at the reception afterward. Are you sticking around for that?”

She was talking about the cocktail hour that the university was putting on after the graduation was over. Krys was planning to attend it and make an immediate beeline for Ivy, Chloe and Megan so she could congratulate them, then get back into the action for a night shift at the free clinic. Instead of admitting all this, though, she said, “Yeah, for a little while.”

“Good,” Alex said. “You need to get away from the hospital more often.”

Krys rolled her eyes good-naturedly, and when Alex turned her attention back to her future in-laws, she wondered if it would be rude to go back to her emails. Plus there was an intriguing article about cystic fibrosis that she’d been meaning to read…

“Did you bring a medical journal to a graduation ceremony?” Dr. Thomas asked, as if she were reading Krys’s mind. Then she swiped the journal out of Krys’s lap to confirm her suspicions. “Seriously?”

“We’re here to support Chloe Barnes, Megan Callahan, and Ivy Chan,” Krys pointed out. “What are you planning to do while everyone from D through Z walks across the stage, Dr. Thomas?”

“Be supportive,” she said with an amused grin. “And we’re not in the hospital – call me Lily.”

“Only if you give back the journal,” Krys said. The prospect of wasting two whole hours that she could be using for professional development made her want to break out in hives. Dr. Thomas – err, Lily – handed back the journal and Krys flipped it open, finding the article she wanted. Then she passed it back to Lily. “Have you read this? It’s about treating respiratory distress in the ER – I figured it might be useful for the next time Malik comes in.”

A shadow fell briefly over Lily’s face, and then she smiled.

“Let me check it out,” she said. She and Krys had both spent a lot of time with their young CF patient, and he was everyone’s favorite patient when he came in for his breathing treatments. Lily gave Krys a side-eye, then closed the journal and slipped it into her purse, saying, “after the ceremony. You’re here to support your friends, so be present in the moment, hon.”

The idea made Krys feel itchy, but Lily had a point.

After a few minutes, the crowd settled down and the first few bars of Pomp and Circumstance could be heard over the speakers. As the music grew louder, everyone stood and the graduates began filing onto the field, taking seats in the white folding chairs that were set up in front of the stage.

Krys and her group cheered when they saw the girls come out – Megan and Chloe with bejeweled and decorated mortarboards, and Ivy holding her chin high, her posture impeccable. Their backs were to the audience but Krys clapped loudly for them and laughed when Alex let out a whoop for Megan.

“Chloe starts her residency with me next week,” Lily said as they spotted her. “She’s going to make a great pediatrician.”

“They’re all going to be good clinicians,” Krys said. Then she laughed and added, “Ivy practically bullied me into being her mentor, so I guess we don’t have to worry about them taking an active role in their careers.”

The football field slowly transformed into a sea of purple and black robes. Ivy and Megan were two of the most decorated graduates, with multiple honor cords hanging from their necks, and Chloe used her charm to bribe the other graduates to sit down out of order so that she could squeeze Ivy’s hand throughout the ceremony.

It was about two hours long, and Lily had been right about the medical journal. Even though Krys only knew three faces in the crowd, she felt proud and invigorated to watch over a hundred and fifty new doctors receive their diplomas.

Hell, it made her want to race back to the ER as soon as she could to pour out that prideful energy on her patients.

Beside her, Lily clapped for each and every student that walked across the stage, and their whole group stood and cheered loudly as Chloe, then Megan, then Ivy received their diplomas. They were able to locate Ivy’s family sitting at the bottom of the bleachers near the field because while she was shaking the dean’s hand, her brother stood up and screamed, “Congratulations, big sis!”

Ivy scowled at him for embarrassing her and Krys couldn’t help smiling. It must be both a blessing and a curse to have siblings who took pride in humbling you during your most significant moments.

***

After the ceremony was over, Krys went with Lily, Alex and Megan’s parents to the reception. There was an enormous white tent set up on the lawn not far from the stadium, with refreshments stations set up beneath it, along with quite a few tables dressed in fine white linens. The five of them got drinks and then sat down to wait for the graduates to pour in.

Krys checked her pager, more out of habit than for any other reason. She wasn’t on call today and she wasn’t due back at the hospital for another sixteen hours, but she never truly forgot the weight of the little black pager that lived forever on her hip. As she was getting ready for the ceremony this morning, she’d stood in front of the mirror in her bathroom and looked at herself in the navy dress pants and flowing summer blouse she’d chosen, and she felt naked until she clipped the pager to her waistband.

“Didn’t you request the whole day off?” Lily asked when she noticed Krys glancing at her hip.

“I did,” Krys said. “But you know how things can be in an emergency department. They can get overwhelmed easily and sometimes they call me to fill in even when I’m not on call.”

“Do you ever stop working?” Lily asked as she sipped on her glass of chardonnay.

Krys had opted for an iced tea with lemon, just in case. She smiled and said, “Not if I can help it.”

Lily gave her a slightly disappointed look that reminded Krys of her mother, then said, “Don’t burn yourself out, girl.”

Krys was saved from the lecture as the graduates arrived at the reception. A sea of purple robes invaded the tent as everyone spread out, locating their loved ones and enjoying the celebration. Megan made it to the table first, greeting Alex with a kiss and then hugging her parents. Krys spotted Ivy and Chloe entering the tent hand-in-hand, but they went to round up their own parents before joining the group.

“I wish your brother could have been here,” Megan’s mom was saying.

“It’s fine,” Megan said. “He’s in college now – I don’t blame him for not wanting to come home for this.”

“You only graduate from medical school once,” her mom objected, and then she let the subject slide and said, “You looked so beautiful crossing the stage, honey.”

“Thank you, mommy,” Megan said. Then she turned to Krys, pulling her into an unexpected embrace. Krys flushed for a moment – she wasn’t used to being part of a group like this and it always took her off-guard when these girls treated her as more than just a coworker. By the time Megan released her, she’d gotten her color under control again and Megan said, “I’m so glad you came, Krys.”

“I am, too,” she answered. “How does it feel to be a doctor?”

Amazing,” Megan said. She grabbed Alex’s hand and said, “Now I have everything I ever wanted.”

“Barf,” Ivy interjected as she led Chloe and their parents over to join the group. “Get a room.”

Megan laughed and kissed Alex’s hand, where a sparkling diamond ring circled her finger, and then they all pulled a second table over, joining the two so everyone could sit together. Ivy and Chloe introduced their parents to the group and Krys was amused at how much they mirrored the girls.

Ivy’s family – except for her rambunctious brother – was stoic and reserved like Ivy had been when Krys first met her. Meanwhile, Chloe’s mom, dad, and teenage sister were all very expressive, hugging her and jumping right into the conversation with vigor. That was going to make an interesting family dynamic if one day they all became in-laws.

“What do you two think?” Lily asked the new arrivals Krys’s question. “How does it feel?”

“Terrifying,” Chloe said with a nervous laugh. “I’m allowed to practice medicine all by myself now. I can’t believe it.”

“I’ll be right by your side,” Lily said. “You’ll do fine.”

“Of course you will,” Ivy agreed. “And I can’t wait to do some cutting.”

“Surgeons,” Krys said. “You’re all alike. What about you, Megan? Where are you doing your residency?”

“At the coroner’s office,” she said. “I’ve been keeping in touch with Dr. Markovich ever since our medical school rotations and he agreed to mentor me on top of the usual residency. Although that might have to happen in my sleep for the first couple of months because I don’t know when I’ll find the time.” She linked her arm in Alex’s and added, “Wedding planning is way more work than we were expecting.”

“I offered to plan it for you two,” her mother said. “I did warn you.”

“And we appreciate the offer, but we want to have our wedding,” Megan said with a smile. “Not yours.”

“July, right?” Krys asked.

She’d been surprised and honored when she received their Save the Date in her hospital mailbox, and that was another date she’d been happy to request time off work for, although she suddenly realized that her RSVP card had gotten buried under a pile of medical journals in her apartment.

“Yep,” Alex said, giving Megan a quick kiss on the cheek. “And you better not show up stag.”

“What’s wrong with that?” Krys asked. She hadn’t even begun to consider the possibility of bringing a date. The idea seemed preposterous, in fact. When would she have the time to find someone?

Megan put on an act of hardship, ticking off all the reasons why Krys should bring a date. “It throws off the caterers and the seating arrangements will be a mess. Everything we order, from party favors to linens, seems to come in even numbers…”

“You’re just trying to couple everyone up because you’re in love,” Krys said.

“And what’s wrong with that?” Megan asked, putting her arm around Alex. “Everyone should be so lucky.”

“Seriously, you’re nauseating,” Ivy said, but she scooted her chair a little closer to Chloe’s and slid her hand more covertly into her girlfriend’s beneath the table.

The conversation turned to Ivy and Chloe’s plans next. They’d finally decided after half a year of bouncing back and forth between their two apartments that it was time to take the plunge and move in together, and their families were going to help them relocate while they were in town this weekend.

Ivy was just discussing the challenges of moving in together and beginning a rigorous surgical residency all in the same week when Krys felt her phone vibrating in the pocket of her pants.

“I’m sorry,” she said, excusing herself from the table. She didn’t get many phone calls. Her parents called from Denver once a week, but never on a Saturday afternoon, so that meant only one thing – either the hospital or the clinic needed her. She could feel her heart rate increasing already.

It turned out to be Russell, asking if she could come in and cover the free clinic after one of the other doctors got called in to work an extra shift at his day job. Krys said she’d be happy to, and then she went back to the table to say goodbye to the new graduates.

“I’m sorry to bow out, but I’ve got some patients waiting for me at the free clinic,” she said, trying to ignore the disapproving look Lily was giving her. “Congratulations, everyone. It was so good to see you

graduate, and I’m proud of all of you.”

Megan, Ivy and Chloe had come a long way since Krys met them in the early years of their medical education, and she had no doubt they’d go on to become fine doctors. As such, she knew they would understand why she needed to leave.

They all said goodbye, and then Krys headed out of the tent. Behind her, she heard Ivy saying, “It just made sense to move in together, although I do have a study carrel reserved at the library in case I need to get away to catch up on my reading.”

Krys smirked and just before she got out of earshot, she heard Chloe quip, “We haven’t even moved in together yet and she’s already making plans to escape.”

Lesfic Book Club: The Brutal Truth

For our July meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Lee Winter’s novel, The Brutal Truth. If you weren’t able to make it, check out the transcript below.

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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

Lee Winter

Hi everyone.

Reader 1

Hello!

Reader 2

Welcome, Lee, thanks for coming!

Reader 5

Hey Lee welcome

Lee Winter

Thanks for asking me

Reader 6

Yay!

Reader 7

Thanks for writing it!

Lee Winter

Lol

Reader 7

That sounded less weird in my head.

Reader 3

Awesome writer person thingy has arrived!

Reader 6

Things always sound less weird in our head @Reader 7

Reader 7

Some of the things in my head sound weird even up there…

Reader 2

So one quick housekeeping note, Lee. We usually end up with a bunch of questions all being asked at once. You can answer them however you want (in the channel or as a thread by hovering over the question and hitting ‘start a thread’) – up to you!

Reader 7

Im gonna stop talking now

Lee Winter

Thanks!

Reader 8

Savage lol

Reader 2

So we can get started whenever you guys are ready. What did you all think of The Brutal Truth?

Reader 6

So damn good

Reader 3

Loved it.

Lee Winter

Meh It was okay

Reader 8

Ridiculously fantastic

Reader 1

Wonderful! I found myself reading longer than I intended, a couple of times, because I was enjoying it and wanting to find out what would happen next!

Reader 3

Didn’t love that I forgot all about it until about 4am though and had to rush to read it all before the club meeting.

Reader 6

Seriously, @Lee Winter do you read your own stuff and still find flaws?

Reader 4

Loved it

Reader 3

For some reason I thought I had another week.

Lee Winter

I tend to toss the match on the pyre and walk away once a book is published. I don’t like reading it again

Reader 2

Did you get through it all, @Reader 3?

Reader 3

I did.

Lee Winter

With one exception

Reader 4

The narrator for the audio version was fantastic as well

Reader 5

Its amazing

Lee Winter

Love Angela Dawe

Reader 6

She’s a master

Reader 9

What’s the exception?

Reader 3

My first question, if Maddie and Elena were mixed drinks, what drinks would they be? And if you want to answer for other characters I would not object.

Lee Winter

Breaking Character. I seem to be in a weird feedback loop on it. Keep rereading it

Reader 8

In a good way?

Lee Winter

Ugh a drinks question for a non drinker. Lol.

Yes in a good way

Maddie would be lemon lime and bitters

I wouldn’t presume to speak for Elena. Hell no

Reader 5

Yum and can totally see that

Probably best not too

Reader 3

I’ll just blame Simon for that question.

Lee Winter

Haha

Reader 6

Maybe you keep re-reading it so you can write a sequel. *crosses fingers*

Lee Winter

I have been writing the spinoff at the moment

Reader 4

Lee, Elena seemed to model Miranda Priestly to some extent. Was that your intention?

Reader 7

What was the hardest part of the book to write?

Lee Winter

It was originally a Mirandy fanfic years ago, so yes, I would hope so.

Reader 4

As a reader, I say well done

Reader 6

And as a person that has no clue about all that stuff, I’ll say it stands very well on it’s own

Reader 5

So three questions from one that can not be here…she wanted to know which character are you most like? Which would you kill? And which would you marry?

Lee Winter

Hardest part… it didn’t really have one. How weird now I think of it

Reader 8

Did you have a favorite line or scene?

Lee Winter

Reader 6 that is awesome to hear. I worked hard to remove its origins from it

Reader 3

What was the hardest part to research?

Lee Winter

Reader 5… most like Maddie, I would kill skeezy Richard, and marry Elena

Favorite scene was in front of the mirror at Australian fashion week when Elena’s gaze is roaming

Reader 8

Yeah…good pick.

Reader 5

Haha agreed

Reader 9

agreed with fav scene

Lee Winter

Hardest parts to research was all things fashion. God I’m useless at it

Reader 6

You faked it well

Lee Winter

Thanks. Lol

Reader 6

Not that I’d know, but they all sounded very fashiony

Lee Winter

I had to learn about things like peplum

Whatevs

Lol

Reader 4

@Reader 6, watch Devil Wears Prada

Reader 5

And another….was the book always meant to have a #metoo aspect to it?

Reader 6

Why, when I have this book? lol

Lee Winter

Metoo… god this is weird. I wrote the book and fanfic of course long before metoo. That hit almost as it was launching

Reader 6

good timing then

Lee Winter

One of the first reviews sneered at that saying well that’s so archaic….and then metoo hit

Lol

Reader 8

I want to say that something I (an ace) appreciate about this book is the emphasis on the “falling,” and not focused on the sex.

Reader 2

Agreed, the character development and the romance both went so much further in depth than you typically get and it was great.

Reader 8

Exactly. I was as pulled to them as they were to each other. Their entire journey was an exReader 7ence I wish I could relive again for the very first time.

Reader 1

I also appreciated that when it came to Elena. Some books, the “mean” partner is so overwhelmingly defined by that trait that I can’t see how the other character actually came to love them in the end. Where in Brutal Truth, even when Elena was being mean, I could see and empathize with her, so it was easy to root for them to come together.

Reader 8

Agreed. Because there is so much depth

Reader 5

Nice

Reader 6

archaic? weird…

Lee Winter

Thank you Reader 8

Not everyone sees what they aren’t affected by, Reader 6. So to her it was archaic…until it wasn’t

Reader 3

What is Maddie’s favorite thing to cook/bake?

Reader 2

Agreed, the character development and the romance both went so much further in depth than you typically get and it was great.

Reader 5

I love the aspect of falling…its always more the journey to the destination that makes my heart skip

Lee Winter

I think she loves apple crumble things…gooey and sweet

I always prefer the journey to the being in love

Reader 7

In books and in movies, that’s what most stories focus on. What made you want to adapt that fanfic into a full novel?

Lee Winter

It had so much love as a fanfic. Like it was my second most popular fic by a long long way. And I couldn’t adapt my most popular (it started with rape ffs), and I really liked Brutal Truth so it just seemed like the thing to do. I wouldn’t do it again though. I hated the people dismissing it because it was a fanfic. May as well just stick to writing other stuff

Reader 4

@Lee Winter, I loved the way you wrote the sex scene.

It felt artful as opposed to slapped on

Reader 8

Do you still write fanfic?

Lee Winter

Thanks Reader 4… I try to have sex scenes as an extension of the story…they tell us more about the people, rather than who is inserting what into whom. 🙂

Just barely, Reader 8. I have one outstanding from a year ago I keep meaning to finish

Reader 2

Do you work on multiple projects at a time?

READER 10

Forgive me for being late to the club, I’m at work. My question would probably be what has been the hardest part about going from fanfic to full blown novels? Or are they each hard in their own way?

Lee Winter

Nah, one project at a time mainly.

Reader 7

What is your writing process? Not in this specific case. But do you start with the characters, or story, or ?

Actually, in this case, too.

Reader 6

and the eternal plotting vs pantsing.

Lee Winter

Great question READER 10. You have to really step up in quality and standards and editing, and be really on the ball or else it reads like fanfiction and that’s not on since people are paying for it

Reader 7, I am a great plotter who won’t write a word till I have the whole story in my head. I will work out characters, twists, all of it before I write a word.

READER 10

My kingdom to be that organized.

Lee Winter

Haha

Reader 7

Do you chart it? Paper, computer, notecards all over. This stuff is so fascinating.

Reader 11

Where do you gain inspiration for characters and plots?

Reader 6

wow

Lee Winter

Scrivener is a godsend. And yes, I have timelines and charts and everything. Looks like CSI

Reader 6

That type of plotting feels like magic to me. lol

Lee Winter

Inspiration often comes from news stories and wondering what if….

Reader 8

Magic!

Reader 4

@Lee Winter, I understand you’re a journalist, or at least was.

What was it like moving to fiction world?

Reader 6

How did you get so damn good at writing? I’ve been binging, a you know, and I’m just in awe.

READER 10

Do you ever listen to a conversation and think, “That’s going in a book.”

Reader 7

Is there something you would change to either the characters or the plot, if you could?

Lee Winter

Reader 4… surreal. It is quite different writing non fiction to flinging myself into a world of fictional lesbians

Reader 6. Journalism. Thirty years of it helps. A lot.

READER 10…more like…that person will be in my book

Reader 6

It’s still a leap to write short journalism pieces vs long novels.

Lee Winter

Reader 6 yes it really is. Quire different writing styles too. Fanfic helped me figure it out

Reader 2

What’s your favorite aspect or part of writing a new book?

Lee Winter

Reader 7… no, I don’t think so. I am in a comfy place about Brutal Truth

Reader 7

How long did it take you get to that point? Did you write it and tada? Or did you go back and change things often?

Reader 11

Are you in the process of writing a new book now?

Lee Winter

Reader 2…the excitement of watching them connect. The chemistry of discovering two new people discovering their interest in someone else. It’s like falling in love for me

Reader 12

How do you, personally, feel about brutal honesty?

Lee Winter

About four drafts to get there, Reader 7

Reader 7

Whoa. 4 distinct drafts? How much time was that?

Lee Winter

Reader 12… I live with a gf who is brutally honest. It can be interesting.

Reader 6

So does she read your books, or is that a no go?

Reader 2

And you’re published through Ylva. Do you work heavily with their editors during that part of

the process?

Lee Winter

New book? Yep am on draft five (one more than normal!) of a Breaking Character spinoff called Changing the Script. It’s about director Alex stuck in NZ making the world’s worst movie, Shezan: Mistress of the Forest … and she keeps thoroughly pissing off the cute local cop

Reader 6

ooooh awesome

Reader 7

Exciting plot!

Lee Winter

Four drafts is about seven months

Reader 11

Can’t wait!

Reader 5

Love the plot!

Reader 7

7 months. Wow. That is incredible.

Lee Winter

Reader 2… Next I will get three Ylva editors go through my book.

Reader 4

I remember buying Requiem for Mortals just because I read you’re Aussie.

But, damn, I got hooked on your writing.

Lee Winter

Reader 4 … maaaate

Reader 6

We have quite a few aussies here

READER 10

do you ever run into…let’s say “creative differences” with your editors?

Reader 2

Oh wow, on top of your 4 drafts? No wonder it’s perfection

Reader 7

Whoa. You write 4 or 5 versions. Then the editors get it?

Lee Winter

Reader 2, glad you think so!

Yes Reader 7

Reader 11

Melbourne represent!

Lee Winter

Good question, READER 10. I had a few discussions over one book but I prevailed. See I could see it playing in my head and knew it had to be that way while the editor couldn’t see it. She finally understood and let me keep what I wanted to do there. But most of the time I change stuff when editors make a good case

READER 10

I can understand that. Has anything they’ve had you change ever drastically altered the course of the book?

Lee Winter

No. Not drastically. Sometimes I’ve been asked to add a scene and usually it value adds to the book

For eg in Requiem I had forgotten to include the exact moment Requiem decides she can’t kill Alison. Kinda important. Editor pointed it out and I added the scene.

READER 10

oh goodness! points for good editor

Reader 6

lol oops

Lee Winter

Yes indeed. The good ones are worth their weight in gold

Reader 2

Do you have a least favorite part of the writing process?

Lee Winter

I hate the editing process. By the time we get there I am SO done with a book I’ve been working on for ages

Reader 3

I am blanking out on the questions today…

READER 10

so you said it usually takes several months to get done with the drafts. Once it finally goes to the editor, how long does it usually take to get to the shelves?

Reader 3

Oh! What is the most exciting part about writing for you?

Or I guess if I rephrased it, what is it about writing that excites you (the most)?

Reader 4

What’s your writing regime?

Set hours? Anytime? Quite place? Music blaring? Etc.

Lee Winter

READER 10 six months. Not because it takes the editors that long but it’s part of a publishing company schedule and lots of other books need attention too, so that’s a rule of thumb

Reader 3…I love it when I fall in love with a protagonist. When I dream about her.

Reader 11

That’s so cute.

Lee Winter

Reader 4… every day at my desk at home by eight am, work through to five. If I’m having a hard time writing I will play music that I link to that particular book.

Reader 11

So disciplined!

Reader 2

Ooh cool, do you share your playlists with your readers?

Lee Winter

Well I have bills. 🙂

I shared the Requiem playlist with readers. It’s on youtube and everything

Reader 2

Nice!

Reader 4

Great list

Reader 3

Who would you say is your favorite protagonist currently?

Lee Winter

Elizabeth Thornton from Breaking Character. Bloody woman got under my skin so bad. I’m trash for her

READER 10

Do particular scenes have particular musical themes, or does an entire book have one set feeling?

Reader 2

And is all of that part of the aforementioned plotting spreadsheets and diagrams?

Lee Winter

The entire book will often have a music vibe. Eg Shattered was Sound of Silence by Disturbed.

Reader 2, no the music either happens or it doesn’t

Reader 9

good song

Reader 4

Back to the 4 drafts, whose input do you use in those? Your only, beta readers, etc.

Lee Winter

Yeah

Me for the first two drafts, beta readers for the third. Sometimes…my brutally honest gf for the fourth, if I’m feeling brave

If you follow me on fb I’ve been posting some of her helpful editing comments. Hilarious and biting

Reader 2

Oh ouch

Lee Winter

I call it the acid and marshmallow edits

Reader 2

Is your girlfriend a creative type (aka do you ever get to serve the acid and marshmallows back the other way)?

Lee Winter

She writes for a hobby, not to share. She’s funny and talented

Reader 2

That reminds me, I was going to ask where you most like to interact with your readers. Facebook then?

Lee Winter

Facebook yes

Reader 4

Better than bad reviews because of bad edits

Lee Winter

Leewinteroz on fb

Reader 6

You are brave.

Lee Winter

Agreed Reader 4

Reader 8

Good question Reader 2.

Lee Winter

Better to be brave than critically panned, Reader 6. 🙂

Reader 6

True

Reader 2

Who are some of your favorite authors, Lee?

Reader 4

I hate FB

Lee Winter

I am mad for fellow Aussie author Jess Lea. Lola Keeley, British author and famous fanficcer also known as fictorium. Roslyn Sinclair (who wrote the greatest fanfic ever as Telanu) and Alex K. Thorne. But the best descriptive writer I’ve ever read is Fiona Zedde

Reader 3

Have you every written something that has surprised you?

READER 10

tried looking on fb, not finding them

Lee Winter

Brutal Truth surprised me. All those blogs Maddie wrote, Aliens of New York, they weren’t in the fanfic. They turned out surprisingly deep and reflective

Reader 6

And, the style was so different from the rest of the story.

Reader 2

Yes, those were my favorite parts

That and how, well, brutal Elena came off in her first scene

Reader 5

I love the blogs. I think they are my favourite parts of the books

Lee Winter

Thanks. In a way they’re mine in that I didn’t know my brain could do that

Reader 5

Well what an even more beautiful brain

READER 10

Where do you come up with the names for your characters?

Lee Winter

They just come to me. I try them on for size and see if they mentally fit

Reader 3

Is there a question that you are hoping that someone will ask but hasn’t been asked yet, and if so then what is it?

Lee Winter

Does this link work? https://www.facebook.com/100010034048069/posts/904191246592002?sfns=mo

facebook.com

Since so many people asked for more of my gf’s acid/marshmallow editing notes on my WIP, I’ve dived into my recycle bin and collected some snark-astic highlights of my book. This also means I get to…

Reader 6

yes

Reader 7

Those are gold.

READER 10

omg those are hilarious

Lee Winter

Back in one minute. Just enjoy the eviscerations of my gf while I’m gone

Reader 2

I imagine having a super snarky editor/beta reader takes some of the sting out of the criticism, that’s great.

Reader 6

these are amazing

Reader 2

Definitely props for letting her do that to a manuscript more than once. I would probably still be crying

READER 10

“You forgot to mention the crows pecked out the other eye” lmao

Reader 7

Some of that snark can’t be fixed with kisses…hm

I love it.

Reader 6

Impressive snark

And now I feel better about editing comments in general. lol

Reader 2

Same!

Lee Winter

Am back. Yes snark on that level requires a thick skin and twenty years together to sail through

Reader 11

Those burns…

Reader 7

Awwww. 20 years?! Congrats. Yea. At that point you know the love is there…regardless

Reader 6

It definitely helps

Lee Winter

It’s true. I don’t recommend this level of scathing for new couples

Reader 2

Haha yeah that could stop a new relationship in its tracks

READER 10

What was your reaction the first time the acid came out?

Lee Winter

She’s always been like this. She believes in the brutal truth in all things. Sound familiar?

Reader 5

No wonder you named a novel that?!

Lee Winter

It seemed apt

Reader 2

Fascinating – I’ve always liked the abstract concept of radical honesty but it seemed like fiction

Reader 12

No wonder you said you’re like Maddie and would marry Elena

Reader 2

I’m sure when she gives you a compliment it’s the best feeling in the world

Lee Winter

True, Elle. And Reader 2 it’s like gold dust. Rare and precious

Reader 7

awwww

Reader 5

Even better!

Reader 4

Do you have “long term” list of books to write?

Lee Winter

I realise now I have always grown up in a blunt family so hearing brutal truths was not unusual for me. It didn’t bother me finding a love like this

Reader 5

Which book is your favorite that you wrote so far?

READER 10

What advice would you give for those of us who are thinking of publishing for the first time?

for the aspiring authors in the group, I should say

Lee Winter

Fave book is a tie … Requiem and Breaking Character

Reader 5

Why those two??

Lee Winter

Reader 4 I have a few ideas longterm bumping around I’d like to get to one day.

READER 10

I swear I know how to type, yall

Lee Winter

Requiem…dark and different, it absorbed me. Breaking Character…structurally it’s my best written book, and Thornton owns my bloody ovaries, damned woman

Reader 6

lol

Lee Winter

Advice for writers…get better with fanfic. If you’re interested in specifics I wrote a blog about this once

Reader 7

Please

Reader 5

Love that! Lol

Reader 2

We are a little past the top of the hour, don’t want to hold Lee up from starting her day so does anyone else have questions they haven’t gotten to ask yet? Speak now or forever hold your peace

Lee Winter

Ylva Publishing

From Fanfic to Lesfic Author—8 Steps to Get You Published – Ylva Publishing

From fanfiction to lesbian fiction author – Lee Winter gives 8 tips and tricks to help fanfiction writers get published.

Sep 10th, 2017

Reader 3

Do you have anything you’d want to tell writers to avoid doing?

Lee Winter

For the love of all things holy avoid head-hopping POVs in the same scene. Just get that right and your writing will be so much better

Reader 11

Yes. Please stop dressing characters in Capri pants.

Lee Winter

That means we aren’t in two people’s thoughts in the same scene

In my getting published blog above there’s a link to pet peeves… funny stuff

Reader 11

Do you have a favourite book overall (not necessarily lesfic)?

Lee Winter

It changes, so I don’t think so. Last year it was A Curious Woman by Jess Lea. But it’ll be different again in another six months

Reader 5

Lol mine changes a lot too, a new one keeps coming out and topping my last favourite book.

Reader 2

Which is a great problem to have haha

Well, thank you so much for joining us, Lee!

Lee Winter

No problem

Reader 2

Your trophy for withstanding the barrage of questions is in the mail

Lee Winter

Woot!

If anyone wants to subscribe to my newsletter I often put out short stories for free and so on. Leewinterauthor.com. Thanks for the great questions

Sneak Peek: Mind Games

My latest novel, MIND GAMES, is available now on Amazon. It’s the first book in my new Fox County Forensics series blending romance with a CSI-style dive into forensic investigation.

Read the first chapter below.

“Today is the day,” Kelsey Granger told herself as she put her hand on the door of the Fox County Coroner’s Office.

She was alone in front of the building, her light brown hair pulled back in a professional ponytail and the top of her head growing warm in the late afternoon sun the longer she stood still.

It had only been a minute or two and she was pretty sure no one had seen her lingering there – inside the glass door there was a small lobby where the day shift receptionist, Reese, sat. She was always gone by the time Kelsey arrived for the night shift, but today she had come in early.

Today was a special day.

Reese’s desk was off to the side of the lobby and she’d have to lean over the counter to see Kelsey standing there like a dork with her hand on the door, doing her little ritual.

Better safe than sorry, though.

Kelsey put her hand back down at her side and took a deep breath, filling her lungs with hot summer air. It was a big day for her and she wanted everything to be perfect. She put her hand on the door one more time and said, “Tonight is the night. You can do this.”

There – that time felt right.

She tilted her chin up and pulled the door open, then went inside. The air conditioning hit her immediately, chilly against her bare arms in a short-sleeved button-up blouse. She smiled toward the desk. “Hi, Reese. Were we busy today?”

“Not particularly,” the girl said with a shrug.

She was in her early twenties like Kelsey, but unlike Kelsey, Reese didn’t seem fazed by anything other than office gossip. There could have been a mass casualty today and she would probably still have answered Kelsey’s small talk question with that nonchalant Not particularly.

Today, though, she gave Kelsey a second glance on her way through the lobby. “Slow days usually mean busy nights. You ready?”

Kelsey clenched her teeth to keep her smile from fading as a ripple of nerves rolled through her midsection, but she kept her chin up. “Sure am – I can’t wait for my first solo case.”

“Give ‘em hell, Kel,” Reese said, smiling back at her even though she was probably more amused by her own rhyme than at Kelsey’s unconvincing answer.

Kelsey went to the door on the back wall of the lobby. It led to the rest of the building and there was a keypad on the handle to keep members of the public – or the media – from wandering into the labs or, God forbid, the morgue.

Kelsey punched in her code, then headed to the forensic investigators’ cubicles.

She’d been working the night shift at the coroner’s office for about six months, shadowing and learning from the veteran investigators. During her job interview, the lead investigator, Maya, told her that most rookies needed about six months of training before they were ready to fly solo on death scenes.

“You’re right where you ought to be,” Maya had reassured her last month when Kelsey asked her about her progress. She’d given the same answer the month before, and the month before that.

Those words were meant to be encouraging, but Kelsey had always been at the top of her class. Sometimes it felt like the word overachiever was a flashing neon sign above her head, and she liked it that way. She didn’t take much comfort in being ‘right where she ought to be’ because her life already hadn’t turned out like it was supposed to.

A year ago, she was on track to go to medical school. She should have been dissecting cadavers in anatomy labs with her roommates right now, not investigating deaths for the Fox County coroner. But here she was, and whether it was med school or death investigation, Kelsey was determined to be the best. She just needed one last reassurance from Maya before she went out on her first death scene, and that was what brought her to the office several hours early for her shift. She had to catch Maya before she clocked out.

“Granger,” one of the other day shift investigators, Tyler, called when he saw her. “Are you pumped or what?”

Kelsey smiled. “I am.”

Tyler came over and clapped her on the back. He was a few years older than her and he’d been the rookie investigator before Kelsey was hired on. He’d only begun solo casework himself a few months ago and he used to work the night shift with Kelsey. They’d quickly become work friends and Tyler was always nice to Kelsey, unlike some of the more senior investigators.

They tended to be matter-of-fact or even blunt when she asked too many questions she already knew the answer to, or asked them to double or triple-check her work.

Tyler had transferred to the day shift last month and Kelsey missed him, but he had a wife and a kid at home so the move made sense. Kelsey had nothing waiting for her but a couple of messy roommates and a never-ending sink full of dirty dishes.

Kelsey set down her work bag at her cubicle. “I re-read my copy of the Death Investigator’s Handbook over the weekend, then I made myself a checklist just in case I forget anything,” she said.

Tyler laughed as she pulled the laminated list out of her bag to show him. “Isn’t that book, like, 500 pages?”

Kelsey shrugged. “I had nothing better to do, unless you count the investigation I conducted in my own kitchen on Sunday night to figure out which one of my roommates keeps leaving empty jars of peanut butter in the pantry.”

Tyler snorted and handed the laminated sheet back to her. “You’re more than ready. Relax – you’ll do fine.”

“I know,” Kelsey said, setting down the checklist and trying to be inconspicuous about lining it up with the edge of the desk.

“So?” Tyler asked. “Don’t leave me hanging. Who was the peanut butter culprit?”

Kelsey laughed. “Who else? Danica – she said it was not empty. According to her, there was at least a tablespoon of peanut butter clinging to the sides of the jar.”

She rolled her eyes – her roommates were both busy and stressed because of school and Kelsey wasn’t even supposed to be living with them in university housing after she dropped out. They were doing her a favor by keeping their mouths shut and letting her squat there while she saved up the money for a security deposit on a place of her own. So she let a lot of their bad roommate behavior slide and took on maid duties because she was the only one who actually cared how much peanut butter was in the jars in the pantry. In the grand scheme of things, she was lucky that was the worst she had to deal with.

She sat down to check her email and Tyler headed back to his cubicle, ready to end his shift. The room held about thirty investigators who, on three different shifts, served Fox County – population two million.

“Are you ready for this, Granger?”

Kelsey looked up from her emails and found Maya walking over to her cubicle. She balanced one arm on top of Kelsey’s cubicle wall, giving her a stern look.

Maya’s long, dark brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail just like Kelsey’s – pretty much the only appropriate hairstyle for a job that involved regularly coming into contact with dead bodies. But that was where Kelsey’s resemblance to Maya ended.

She was about ten years older than Kelsey, without so much as a wrinkle to prove it, and at least forty pounds lighter with prominent muscles beneath her crisp white shirt and black slacks. If she wasn’t investigating a death scene or grudgingly giving Kelsey her monthly pep talk, Maya was lifting weights or running on the treadmill in the gym she and a few of the other investigators set up in the building’s basement.

She was beautiful, strong, intimidating, and if she wasn’t so mean, Kelsey might have had a crush on her. But it would simply be masochism to be attracted to someone who consistently tore her confidence to shreds.

“Do you think I am?” Kelsey asked. “I re-read my handbook-”

“You gotta stop trying to be so damn perfect all the time,” Maya said. “Just relax. You’ve been trained well, lord knows you’ve studied that handbook enough, and if you get in any trouble, you can call one of the other investigators. Aaron’s working tonight – he’ll help you out.” She let out an audible sigh and added, “And if push comes to shove, you’ve got my cell. You can call me if you get in trouble – but try not to get in trouble.”

“Okay,” Kelsey said. She stood up and adjusted her posture, looking Maya in the eyes. “I’m ready to go solo.”

“Attagirl,” Maya said, adjusting the gym bag that Kelsey noticed was slung over her shoulder. She looked impatient to clock out. “Unless you need anything else, I’m heading out for the night.”

“No,” Kelsey said, her hand going reflexively to the laminated checklist on her desk. “I’ll be okay.”

Maya nodded, rapped her knuckles on the top of Kelsey’s cubicle wall, then headed for the time clock near the door. It was a few minutes after five and the day shift was about to clear out – the afternoon shift was already hard at work, and Kelsey planned to spend the next couple of hours mentally preparing herself for when a call came in for her.

It was usually quieter at night, but not always.

Just as Maya reached the time clock, one of the autopsy assistants ran into the room in a blind panic. She nearly knocked Maya off her feet.

“Who’s on shift?” the girl, Jordan, asked loudly, a wild look in her eyes.

Kelsey’s heart skipped a beat and she looked around the room. The two afternoon investigators weren’t at their desks. Kelsey looked to Maya, who was watching quietly – waiting to see if she’d step up.

Tonight’s the night – you can do this. Kelsey repeated her mantra, then stepped into the aisle. “I am. Did a call come in?”

“Yes,” Jordan said. “There’s been a boating accident on the lake – at least a dozen bodies. Should I tell them you’re on your way? You better take the big truck.”

“What?” Kelsey asked, all the courage draining out of her. “A mass casualty? Maya–”

“You told me you were ready,” Maya said. “Are you?”

“Yes,” Kelsey squeaked. “Okay…” She glanced at her checklist, trying to collect her thoughts. “Where’s my handbook?”

She was just reaching for a thick black paperback, praying she could quickly and efficiently refresh her memory on mass disaster protocols, when Jordan sputtered behind her and started to laugh.

Then she heard Maya cracking up, too.

Kelsey turned around, hoping she didn’t look as pale and drained as she felt. “Was that a joke?”

Jordan wore a broad smile, her pearly whites on full display as she cackled, amused at her own sparkling sense of humor. “You should have seen your face! I thought we were going to have to call a hearse for you.

Kelsey scowled, then looked at Maya. She could see from the smirk on her lips that they’d planned this together – a little practical joke to kick off the most important night of Kelsey’s budding career. And she’d fallen for it completely, just like she’d fallen into every other trap that Jordan the jokester had set for her over the last few months.

She was so hilarious.

Kelsey sighed and leaned against her cubicle wall, trying to catch her breath.

“Relax,” Maya said. It sounded like an order, and somehow that did calm Kelsey down a little bit. “We wouldn’t send a rookie to lead a mass casualty investigation – you know that. Now do whatever you gotta do to chill out before you get called out to a scene – nervous investigators make mistakes.”

Kelsey nodded, doing her best to keep her composure while Maya and the other day shift investigators clocked out and left one by one. On her way out the door, Jordan let out another guffaw and said, “That was too easy, Kelsey. Thanks for the laugh.”

Tyler mouthed the word breathe as he passed Kelsey on his way out. She nodded, wondering if he’d known about the prank and didn’t have the decency to warn her.

When she was finally alone in the office, Kelsey sank back down in her chair. She tried to take Tyler’s advice, putting one hand on her stomach and drawing in three long, deep breaths. She closed her eyes and felt the air inflating her belly. It was a strategy Kelsey’s therapist taught her – inhale to a count of four, hold for seven, exhale for eight. Repeat.

It worked little by little, bringing Kelsey’s heart rate down to a reasonable level, but it wasn’t quite enough. She needed to feel in control tonight so she went to the cabinet that held all the investigation kits – large, black plastic briefcases that weighed about twenty pounds each and held all the forensic evidence collection tools an investigator needed at a death scene.

Kelsey grabbed the kit that had her name printed on masking tape across the handle and carried it to a long conference table that doubled as the investigators’ break room. She grabbed a paper towel from the sink nearby and wiped the table down, then carefully lay out every item in her kit.

There were plastic evidence collection bags, swabs and vials, a gunshot residue kit, luminol for blood detection, a digital camera, latex gloves, and dozens of other specialized items. Spreading everything out neatly in front of her, taking inventory and putting it all back exactly as she liked it to be organized always made Kelsey feel better.

She carried out this unpacking and repacking ritual at the beginning of her shift almost every afternoon and sometimes when she had a rough one, she’d do it again before she clocked out. No one in the office knew she had Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and she wanted to keep it that way, so it was lucky that they all just considered this ritual to be further evidence

of her fastidious personality.

She needed all the pieces to be exactly where they should be, packed precisely to make sure that once she got out on the scene, she’d have total control of her investigation. Tonight was more important that all the investigations she’d shadowed before, so Kelsey counted everything in the kit twice.

She retrieved her laminated checklist and added it to the kit, then counted it all one more time just to be safe.

Keep reading – get MIND GAMES on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited now

Lessons from the Coroner’s Office

My latest novel, Mind Games, is available now on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited!

This is the first book in my new Fox County Forensics series and if you enjoy shows like CSI and Rizzoli and Isles, I think you’re gonna love it.

Kelsey is an energetic rookie investigator determined to impress her boss despite struggling with OCD. Zara is the seasoned police officer who reports to Kelsey’s first death scene… and she just so happens to be terrified of dead bodies.

I had a ton of fun researching the forensic side of this romance. I’m lucky enough to have a little bit of personal experience – I interned at my county coroner’s office during high school, worked closely with the chemist and got to watch an autopsy.

But I also relied heavily on my dad for forensic details – he was an investigator for 30 years and he was really enthusiastic about being the ‘subject matter expert’ for Mind Games. I did a formal interview with him to get the basics down, and I thought it would be fun to share his answers!

Check that out below, and check out Mind Games on Amazon today.

What personal protective gear (PPE) do you wear during a standard autopsy?

Normally when doing an autopsy the PPE is linen type gown, plastic apron, gloves, shoe covers, and mask with eye protection. Also, under all of this is scrubs, top and bottom.

How long would it take for the investigation, autopsy and toxicology to be completed?

The autopsy a few hours, investigation at the scene from 1 hour up to 6 or 8 hours depending on complexity of the case. Tox could take a few hours up to a few days depending on what you are looking for. The more common the drug the less time the more exotic the drug the longer it may take. It may be that the drug you are looking for you don’t test in house and you may need to send out a sample for outside testing at a reference lab.

How long for the coroner to make a ruling and close the case?

It could take anywhere from 6 weeks (that’s a short time period), up to months. Again it depends on what you are waiting on. You could be waiting on further drug testing, more investigation, etc. It depends on the answers you get to what info you have requested. For instance you may ask the police to do further investigation depending on what you found at the autopsy. So, if you find blunt trauma on the body and want to know if there is anything at the scene that could have been used to make that mark, you would inform the police and ask them to do more investigation to see if they could find a weapon matching the mark on the body.

Are toxicology reports done for all cases? If not, what prompts the coroner to request it?

Normally tox is not done in all cases as a matter of protocol. But due to the drug epidemic we are in there is more emphasis on tox today than ever before. Tox will always be done in the case where the autopsy does not show a cause of death. Also, tox will be done if the person is a known drug user or there are drugs or drug paraphernalia found at the scene. Or just to rule out a drug overdose. Also, tox may be done as a matter of protocol in homicide cases.

If an investigator got bodily fluids on their clothes at a scene, what would they do?

I don’t think there is any protocol for that (although I may be wrong), but what I would do is to immediately change my clothes upon leaving the scene. And depending on the case, I may destroy the clothing. If the decedent is a high risk of communicable disease I would definitely trash the clothing at the office in a biohazard bag/container.

Can family members request copies of the coroner’s reports?

They can. Reports are public record.

What if the police are still investigating other aspects of the case?

If there is an ongoing investigation the case would not be closed, or signed out. And we would not release anything until it is signed out. We may speak with the family member to try to answer questions. Also, if there is potential litigation, such as in a homicide death we would be very careful in releasing any information including any reports. In that case where a request is made for reports in a homicide case we would confer with the Prosecutors office and let them make the call.

How many officers would respond to a death scene like the one in Mind Games?

Normally you would get the patrol officer responding initially. Then in the case of a death the patrol officer would call the detective bureau and on average 1 or 2 detectives would respond. This would depend on the complexity of the case and size of the police jurisdiction. Larger jurisdictions may have more people on hand to respond.

What about a scene where there’s a home invasion in progress, the suspect is fleeing on foot, there’s one resident injured and another dead? Would the police wait until the suspect was dealt with and the injured resident removed before they called in the death investigator?

Yep, that is usually the way it goes.

What do the police do to assist the investigator at the scene?

Normally the police do a criminal investigation and the ME investigator does a medical legal death investigation. Both sides work together to come to a successful conclusion. The police may answer questions the ME investigator has. For instance, if a gun was involved and it has been moved you may want to know who moved it and why. You may need to know who first found the body and where they are so you can interview them, etc. There are a host of questions you may have for the police regarding the investigation.

Does all evidence go with the investigator to the ME’s office, or does the police take some of it to the station? If it is split up, how do they decide what goes where?

Some goes to the police and some to the ME. This all depends on the jurisdiction. All are different. We usually let the police take any weapon but they are required to bring that weapon to the autopsy. We would take all medications and/or drugs. To decide who takes what that depends on what is going to be done with the evidence. Some evidence will be submitted to the BCI lab, that’s the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. If it’s going to BCI the police would take it because they would submit it. No sense of us taking it then having to receipt it to the police so they can submit it to BCI.

When does the medical examiner (ME) release their evidence to the police?

That depends. If we do fingerprints, hair samples, nail clippings, body fluid collection that is done at the time of autopsy. When the police attend the autopsy we would release that evidence at the end of the autopsy. If the evidence is bloody clothing it needs to be hung up and dried before it can be bagged. If it is bagged wet it will produce mold. This drying process would take a day or two. Once dry we would contact the policed and let them know it can be picked up.

Under what circumstances does the ME retain evidence indefinitely?

Evidence that is retained is usually evidence that we have collected as a matter of protocol and may not be deemed evidence by the prosecutor. For instance we routinely collect Gun Shot Residue (GSR), this is a kit. We collect it routinely in the case if a suicide in case there is any dispute concerning the manner of death in the future. Fingerprints also fall into this category as well as hair samples, nail clippings and biological swabs.

Do all investigators use a communal set of investigation kits or is each investigator issued their own kit?

Our investigators all have their own investigation kit with standard items included. GSR kits, forms, blood tubes, camera, gloves, plastic apron, syringe, needles, etc. Big thanks to my dad for answering the thousand-and-one questions I had, and to everyone who’s been reading and reviewing Mind Games since its launch!

Grab your copy now

Lesfic Book Club: Strawberry Summer

For our June meeting of the Lesfic Book Club, we discussed Melissa Brayden’s novel, Strawberry Summer. 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

I saw @Melissa Brayden sign up a little while ago, not sure if she’s back yet but just in case… hi, Melissa, we’re over here

Melissa Brayden

Hi, guys! I’m here!

Super excited to chat with you.

Reader 1

hey @Melissa Brayden good to have you!

Reader 2

Hi

Reader 3

Hi

Reader 4

Hi!

Melissa Brayden

Just finished a birthday party for my sister and snuck away to my childhood bedroom for book club!

Reader 5

Welcome Melissa.Everyone has been so excited to have you here.

Reader 6

Welcome, thanks for joining us!

Reader 7

Welcome @Melissa Brayden !!!!

Reader 1

Awesome lol

Reader 8

Hello and welcome!!

Reader 9

Hey @Melissa Brayden

Reader 5

You have the honour of Strawberry Summer being my first ever lesfic book.

Reader 10

Hello!

Reader 3

Melissa, how hard was it to kill off a popular character in SS?

Reader 11

@Reader 5 wow

Melissa Brayden

Oh yeah? That’s very cool. I still remember my first lesfic book VERY fondly. I was so amazed to have found int.

it*

Reader 3 – great question!

Reader 3

I’m having trouble getting mine to argue

Reader 5

Clay was the lovable big brother everyone wants!

Melissa Brayden

It was a tough decision. I’d been known as an author who was fairly light and fun in her work. So the concept of a death in SS felt like territory I wasn’t allowed to cross into. However, I knew it was the right thing for the story, despite the fact that I was stepping outside of my own comfort zone. I think it was the right decision.

Reader 12

I’m curious as to what inspired you to go with the strawberry theme.

Reader 1

I cried so much when Clay died. It broke me

Reader 6

Which book was it?

Reader 9

Right he was great

Melissa Brayden

Reader 6, the book was Behind the Pine Curtain by Gerri Hill.

Reader 1

I love Gerri Hill

Reader 12

Oooh… that’s a good book.

Melissa Brayden

Reader 12, the strawberry theme was inspired by a convo with my friend, Georgia (Beers). Shall I tell you the convo?

Reader 12

Sure.

Reader 3

Ooh I read that Pine Curtain recently – good book

Reader 9

Yes please

Reader 1

Of course it was haha that’s great ! I love Georgia she’s great!

Melissa Brayden

Georgia was writing a beer book at the time, and needed a title. She asked if we could bounce ideas. So I just started riffing. I do that without thinking, just off the top of my head. I knew that in sampling beer you encounter a lot of different flavors so I was tossing out titles with cinnamon and lemon and strawberry and offered up Strawberry Summer. She didn’t snatch it up by I fell in love with it. From that title, the whole strawberry concept came to life. She wound up calling her book A Little Bit of Spice (twisting my suggestion of A Little Bit of Cinnamon)

Reader 3

We’ve all done Georgia 2 months ago

Melissa Brayden

Oh, good!

Reader 12

Phrasing!

Reader 6

Not sure we should talk about her like that without her here to defend herself

Reader 11

I love it.

Reader 1

That’s awesome! It was a really good book!

Reader 2

That was a wonderful book too!

Reader 13

That’s such a fantastic title inspiration hahaha

Reader 8

That’s so cool!

Melissa Brayden

It was really fortuitous for me.

Reader 6

Do you often start with a title and go from there?

Reader 3

Just read Spice one too (sorry 9pm here can’t type)

Reader 9

That’s great title inspiration

Reader 5

I actually worked on a strawberry farm for 3 consecutive summers when I was at university. It was a much smaller operation than the Beringer farm though!

Melissa Brayden

Not generally, but this one really worked nicely. Titles are generally second to the story for me.

Reader 11

I love how so much of the community is so positive and supportive of each other

Melissa Brayden

But I take inspiration wherever I can get it.

Peri, I love a happy small town!

Reader 8

Yes! Agreed @Reader 11 – I liked that the stereotypical high school popular guy turned into one of the nicest characters

Reader 9

And the mean girl turned into a pretty nice woman

Melissa Brayden

NortherGirl – that’s awesome!!!

Reader 1

Yes loved that too! Even Melanie was spot on

Melissa Brayden

Lilly Craig – I think it’s important to me that my characters feel three dimensional and no one is all good or all bad.

Reader 2

As hard as Clay’s death was, I feel like it was the only way I’d believe them breaking up.

Melissa Brayden

Reader 2, agreed. It was necessary.

Reader 10

I grew up in a small town of 7,000 (though moved away before I came out)… and I felt that your town reminded me of growing up in my hometown. Do you (or have you ever) live(d) in a small town yourself?

Reader 3

I liked how you started the book. Lots of tense drama. Then suddenly we’re into sweet times and you’re thinking eh?

Reader 8

Can ask about your influences as a writer? I think your dialogue feels a lot like Buffy dialogue to me – I love it!

Reader 6

Agreed, the dialog was so fun in this book!

Reader 1

Bully’s are bully’s for underlying problems they themselves internalize so it was great.

Reader 9

I loved the way it was set in the past to reach the present had me on the edge of my seat the whole ride

Reader 1

I caught that too Reader 8

Melissa Brayden

Reader 10, I have’t and maybe that’s one of the reasons I romanticize them so much in my head and love to write them. I just finished a book with a small town and each time I go there with the setting, I just long for that slower paced life a little bit. Where everyone knows everyone .

Reader 4

Since I think I’m the only high schooler here, I’ll have to agree that all the descriptions of high school hierarchies are still spot on. Completely relateable.

Reader 5

Where did you get the idea of the department store? Here in the UK department stores and high streets in general are dying a death.

Reader 3

Does small town = village?

Melissa Brayden

Lilly – My influences are mainly rooted in romance novels themselves. I’ve never seen Buffy but I hear great things! Judith McNaught, Danielle Steele, Reader 10 Higgins, Jill Shalvis, Nora Roberts (specially Nora)

Reader 4, I’m thrilled to hear that!

Reader 1

Love Nora Roberts!

Good influences!

Melissa Brayden

Northergirl – I just love malls and the crisp air you encounter in the pristine department stores. Also one of my favorite romances, Paradise by Judith McNaught, has two feuding department stores so it stuck in my head.

Reader 3 – I think so (village)

Reader 3

My village has 1220 and I know a handful only

Reader 6

Hehe by choice or because everyone just keeps to themselves?

Reader 1

Where’d you get the idea for the House that was built over the lake? That was so cool

Reader 9

Right I was like I need that house hahah

Melissa Brayden

I think mainly I just wanted to live in one like that. I researched what was possible and went with it!

Reader 1

Same!

Reader 9

It was great

Reader 1

That’s awesome!

Reader 3

Although more people know me- are you that fruitloop with the 3 dogs? Er yep

Reader 6

Haha that’s a fun thing to be known for tho

Melissa Brayden

That’s awesome.

Reader 1

Reader 6 is the Bunny Whisper I’m sure!

Reader 10

That is a small town danger: I was a musician, so even if I didn’t know somebody in town, there was a distinct chance they knew who I was!

Reader 1

I feel like everyone knows me for they know my mom (she’s bartended for like 20yrs lol)

Reader 2

Yeah, a lot of people knew me, from all my extracurriculars, but I didn’t know that many people. Now I’ve been gone so long who knows?

Waiting in the Wings was my first lesfic, and also a second chance romance. Do you have a favorite trope, or sets of tropes?

Melissa Brayden

I’m a big fan of friends to lovers and enemies to lovers – and of course, reunion romances. I just finished one of those as well.

Reader 12

Have you ever thought of writing a romance set in a fantasy setting?

Melissa Brayden

I haven’t. I worry I’d be bad at it!

I’m always soooo impressed with those that do. Barbara Ann Wright comes to mind!

Reader 4

Reader 3 – Did you grow up there? If you grow up in a small town, everybody knows everybody. If you move there later, it’s actually pretty easy to remain “the stranger” for quite a while. Little opportunity for social interaction like clubs, etc.

Reader 3

I read the soho lift backwards would you recommend reading them in order. I guess there were spoilers from page 1 of book 3

Melissa Brayden

While I think you can read them in any order, you’ll get more out of the progression and character growth if you read them 1-3.

Reader 1

Which Is why I also read series in order even if they can be standalone lol

Reader 3

I did that with 7 shores. Only just read KTG today then immediately started on JTW because I wanted to follow on properly

Reader 1

Lol

Melissa Brayden

Reader 3, perfect!

Reader 5

I ask this at every book club Melissa but if it was made into a film who would play Courtney and Maggie?

Melissa Brayden

Hmmm….that’s really hard. I think a Reader 16ie Holmes type (but the younger version, maybe Dawsons Creek time period) for young Maggie. There’s sooooo many choices for Courtney, would be hard to pin down a favorite. A young Amanda Peterson, Reader 16e Hudson….Reese Witherspoon…..on and on and on.

Reader 1

I saw Reader 16ie Holmes and Reese Witherspoon for sure lol glad I pegged them right

Reader 13

Wow I would love to see this happen

Melissa, do you think we might see Maggie and Courtney pop up in any of your future work?

Melissa Brayden

I would like for them to! I really do miss those characters. They are on a short list of favorite characters Ive ever written.

Reader 1

I would love a sequel that would be great!

Reader 3

Do you have a dog and which out of the ones in your books is it? If any?

Melissa Brayden

I have two Jack Russell terriers. Apple, a girl, and Ryder, a boy. I don’t think I’ve written them in yet. Someday…..

Reader 5

I loved that you made Maggie’s mum a bodice ripping writer of romance!

Reader 9

Right that was epic

Reader 8

Agreed! And that Maggie cringed about it so much haha

Reader 6

Seconded – her little asides about what her characters were doing were fantastic

Melissa Brayden

Those were such fun scenes to write. It was important to me that she be warm and kind as a mom, but a total romance fanatic about her job. I like the dichotomy.

Reader 1

Loved that! It brought her mom to life for sure!

Reader 5

The characters all felt so rounded with their own quirks, such as Maggie’s Beatles obsession. Are you a Beatles fan?

Melissa Brayden

I am! I love the play, John Lennon and Me, and directed it once. It inspired that little piece of SS.

Reader 6

What’s your favorite part of the romance story to write?

Melissa Brayden

I really love writing the middle 2/3 section because the characters generally already know each other well and are HAPPY. The happy, playful, in love scenes are the reason I get out of a bed. They come to me fast and I end the day with a smile.

Reader 1

Loved those scenes! Makes me want to make out in the strawberry fields

Reader 2

Do you then struggle to write the conflicts, since happy is easy and fun?

Reader 6

You definitely excel at it – Maggie and Courtney’s chemistry was so immediate and intriguing

Reader 1

All because of Abraham Lincoln

Melissa Brayden

Reader 2, I think more so when I was a new writer. I wanted everyone to be happy all of the time. I’ve learned that’s now always the best thing for a romance arc, along with gentle prodding from the editor who worked on my first three books.

Reader 13

You’re sooo good at writing those happy scenes, they always feel warm & fuzzy but also like meaningful moments, beyond just fluffy filler (which is nice sometimes too!)

Reader 12

What were the easiest and the hardest things to research for the book?

Melissa Brayden

The hardest was definitely learning how a strawberry farm worked, because it can work a lot of different ways! The easiest was the department store, because those facts are soooo interesting. The shopping from left to right? Yeah…..

Reader 3

Yeah mollydollys went past me on the soho series but now I’ve read the sweet one I get it

Melissa Brayden

Aha, you caught that, huh? There was another secret How Sweet it Is reference in this book as well, but not many people caught it.

Reader 3

Give me a mo, I remember seeing something. Then of course there was Mal and Hunter (H mentioned) in7 shores.

Reader 2

Where do you fit on the scale of pantsing and plotting?

Melissa Brayden

I know the big plot points only and pants the other 80%. So I would say panther for sure.

For example, I knew Maggie was going to suffer a loss, but as I wrote it, I thought it would probably be Travis. But I pants my way to Clay, because that’s where the story took me.

Reader 2

impressive! I will remember that every time I wish I plotted more. haha

Reader 9

Wow interesting and impressive

Reader 2

Wait, so did you write the back story first and come back with the opening, or start with the present day and fill in the back story?

Melissa Brayden

I wrote this one entirely in order, so I started with the present day scene, then jumped backward – still not totally knowing how we got to that present day anger/angst.

Reader 6

Ooh interesting. That makes me wonder when you knew what Louis was going to do because I was on the edge of my seat about him for a while.

Melissa Brayden

I knew about Louis only as I went!

I didn’t have him planned in advance.

Reader 2

This is so much more impressive now!

Reader 5

Louis kinda made me feel uncomfortable.

Reader 3

It would have been so easy to kill him off instead

Reader 4

aw. Poor nerd.

Reader 2

He was a challenge, but I also liked that arc.

Reader 8

Holy, that’s so impressive!

Reader 6

I agree, @Reader 5 – an unpredictable, unstable person

Reader 1

I got that from Louis too. He was obsessive with Berta something bad had to happen because of him

Melissa Brayden

And killing him off wouldn’t have had the punch packing that a beloved character did. I really needed to upset the balance in place.

Reader 1

I got that too Clay was the right choice for the story.

Reader 2

Wait, so did you write the back story first and come back with the opening, or start with the present day and fill in the back story?

Reader 12

Who would be your favorite authors, both for lesfic and for non-lesfic?

Melissa Brayden

Lesfic would be Ann McMan, Georgia Beers, Robin Alexander. Non lesfic: Chevy Stevens, Nora Roberts, Reader 10 Higgins, Jill Shalvis

Reader 6

Did you befriend Georgia through lesfic or know her from elsewhere?

Reader 1

Robin is my new favorite right now. Working my way through her books about to start Scaredy Cat

Reader 5

Ooh I’m just on with the Jericho books. More small town charm.

Melissa Brayden

We met in 2010 at the GCLS conference. We wound up sitting next to each other for the keynote address and struck up a conversation. Then I saw her at each event that year and we really hit it off as friends. Now she’s my best friend.

Reader 1

That’s awesome!

Melissa Brayden

Northergirl – I love Jericho.

Reader 6

That’s awesome

Reader 12

That’s really awesome.

Reader 2

Now I’m even more curious about your writing process. Do you have anyone reading along or working with you during the process, like your editor? Or do you wait until you have a completed first draft?

Melissa Brayden

I do not let anyone read my manuscripts – only my editor. No beta readers or family or friends. Just me and her.

no one reads it until it’s in proofing.

Reader 8

Can you tell us a little about upcoming projects?

Melissa Brayden

Sure! My next release is another small town romance – Beautiful Dreamer. Similar to Strawberry in some ways and then not at all in others. After that in November, I have Back to September which is a small book shop owner and a famous romance novelist.

Reader 6

Ooh, fun!

Reader 8

Suuuper excited for Back to September

Reader 13

Pre-ordered on Amazon! Counting down the days until July 16th!!

Reader 3

I wondered if the cousin ballerina from KTG is mentioned in your ballet one. That’s one of the only ones I’ve not read yet

Melissa Brayden

Yes. She is.

Reader 3

Ha ha, I love how they all tie up

Reader 5

Could you ever see yourself doing a collaborative book?

Melissa Brayden

I think that might be hard for me. Never say never, but that concept makes me a little nervous. Im a bit of a control freak when it comes to creative endeavors.

I know Kris Bryant, Maggie Cummings, and M Ullrich had success with theirs.

Reader 2

I suspect it’s a lot harder when pantsing too.

Reader 14

I enjoyed the inclusion of the book club scene. Are you, yourself, part of a book club?

Melissa Brayden

No, but I DESPERATELY WANT TO BE. Another thing I romanticize. Sitting around and talking about books with wine. I would join their book club in a heartbeat.

Reader 1

Same

Reader 9

Most definitely seemed like a great book club

Reader 3

I’m in, come to the U.K.?

Reader 6

Agreed, sounds like heaven

Reader 12

Do online book clubs count?

Melissa Brayden

A little! But I do want to sit on the floor, in the evening, and drink wine.

Reader 2

probably wouldn’t hurt to get some adult conversation that doesn’t revolve around a little one too.

Melissa Brayden

EXACTLY

Reader 6

Which one of your books was your favorite to write?

Melissa Brayden

Waiting in the Wings, Kiss the Girl, and Strawberry Summer are tied.

Reader 6

Anything in particular about them that made them faves?

Melissa Brayden

Waiting in the Wings because I’d never written anything and it was so exciting to jump back into a STORY each day. Kiss the Girls because I loved the friends and it was my first time meeting the four of them. And Strawberry because the romance and it’s unravel pulled me in. I liked developing it.

Kiss the Girl***

Can’t typo my own book!

Reader 3

I love the books on the sets of friends. They seem such cool people to know

I even felt like learning to surf

Even my dog can surf

Reader 6

That is adorable!

Melissa Brayden

Yes, writing friends is so much fun. I have a new three book series coming up set on a vineyard.

Reader 3

Ooh if you need someone to taste test brands….

Melissa Brayden

Right? Planning on this being the best research ever? Maybe a wine trip is called for.

Reader 3

I gave you the idea therefore I should be in on this

Reader 15

Did I miss everything?

Reader 3

How hard do you find it to write with a toddler?

Melissa Brayden

It’s impossible! I only write in the first half of the day when he’s at daycare. The afternoons and evenings are reserved for him. If I have any loose ends, I tied them up after he goes to bed for the night. Writing with him present will just not work I’ve learned.

Reader 2

It won’t get better for a while either. But then he’ll go to school.

Has your writing approach or schedule changed since becoming a mom?

(on the same page @Reader 3! lol)

Melissa Brayden

Yes, I used to be able to take all day to hit my word count. I have to be more structured now and have my count hit before 1pm.

Reader 5

Of the other couples you’ve written which is your favourite? I loved Hunter and Samantha.

Melissa Brayden

That tends to change. I do adore Sam and Hunter. Brooklyn and Jessica rank high for me too. As do Maggie and Country and Jenna and Adrienne.

Courtney*

Reader 6

Do you have any particular process for choosing character names?

I liked the Maggie/Margaret duality depending on who she was talking to (and how she felt about them)

Reader 3

Just finished Sam & Hunter, on p203.

Yeah she gets Hunter an awesome name and her siblings are Claire and Kevin ???? WTH

Melissa Brayden

I think they need to fit the character. For example, Courtney. I wanted to find a name that felt softer, and girlish because that’s how the character felt. I have to LIKE the name or I can’t work with it.

HAHA. Yes, Hunter was COOLER than her siblings. That’s why.

Reader 6

Haha sometimes it just works out that way

Meant to be from the time she was named

Reader 5

Hunter was effortlessly cool!

Reader 1

I find it extremely hard to write with a toddler lol

Melissa Brayden

It’s near impossible.

Reader 1

It is. Mine thinks she needs to help with everything I do so… It’s nearly impossible. (I also own my own business and I’ve slacked a bit because of her lol)

Reader 3

Good news, as they grow they bring new challenges. Terrible twos, they seem bliss compared to the answering back, rebellion, slamming doors etc etc and that’s just me

Reader 2

All ages were easier than 4 and a quarter. This one might break us.

Reader 3

Yup, you survive… then hit the next hurdle that flattens you again … and repeat

Reader 1

Pretty much! Potty training is hell

Reader 5

Do you get much of a chance to interact with readers like this? Do you enjoy it?

Melissa Brayden

I do! I do a book club about once a month, it seems. Sometimes in person, sometimes on Skype, or sometimes typing like this. I love it! Beyond that, I do about 4-5 author/reader in person events each year (my favorites being the Golden Crown Literary Conference and Women’s Week in Provincetown each year. I did Clexacon this year, which was new, but. loved it!)

Reader 6

That sounds kind of scary haha Would you consider yourself an extrovert?

Reader 3

Do you do worldwide tours?

Reader 16

Courtney seemed so cosmopolitan and sophisticated and Maggie was always in awe of how our together she was. What was the inspiration behind her character?

Melissa Brayden

I think we always look to the popular girl in high school and wish she noticed us more (Whether romantic or not. I think straight girls do that too). And I wondered, what if she did? What if she were popular, and kind, and NOTICED the other MC who’d never really been noticed before? That got me excited to write.

Reader 1

That’s what I loved the most she was able to be in both worlds and bring them to the other side. And then Melanie became one of Maggie’s best friends it was nice to see. Which is what happens after high school.

Reader 16

*put

Reader 3

Ooh just remembered a question. Back to soho on the KTG cover its Brooks, but which of the two is it meant to be on JTW? I’m thinking Sam but then the tan?

Melissa Brayden

I think you can choose, but for me, it’s Sam.

Reader 3

Yeah Hunter has black hair. I find her the hardest one to imagine. Is she based on anyone I can google

Melissa Brayden

She is not based on anyone in real life, no.

Reader 3

Shame I like to picture everything in my head as I read and I hate not getting a visual of an mc

Reader 2

What got you started with writing?

Melissa Brayden

I’ve always been a storyteller. I worked in educational theatre (directing shows), I ran a small production company (editing stories), and I was a TV news reporter (also constructing stories) – so this was just another extension of that skill. I had a summer off and had never written anything before in my life. I gave it shot with Waiting in the Wings and submitted just for fun. I never thought it would get accepted. After that, I thought it might be some nice vacation money. When my full time job’s salary was overtaken and then doubled, I knew it was my new full time gig.

Reader 2

Impressive debut!

Melissa Brayden

I was very lucky.

I think it’s harder now.

Reader 2

Because of how many books are available? I still think that book would have stood out no matter what.

Melissa Brayden

Yes, even if you write a fantastic book now, the self publishing model Amazon offers has allowed so many titles to flood the genre, that my fear is that good authors are having trouble being seen

Reader 3

I’ll let you know, I’m working on my debut

Reader 2

To some extent. It also is easier to find readers, thanks to twitter and fb groups

Reader 6

Coming up on close to an hour, Melissa I don’t want to keep you too long if you have to get back to the party? Does anyone have any unasked questions?

Reader 5

Thanks for joining us Melissa.

Reader 1

Thanks for talking to us Melissa!!

Reader 13

Thank you so much Melissa!!

Reader 3

Thanks Melissa. I am a true fan and this has made my month/year

Reader 16

Thank you so much Melissa!

Reader 4

ess, Thank you!

Reader 10

Thank you!

Reader 8

Thank you for joining in and answering questions!

Melissa Brayden

I had the BEST TIME!!!

I love talking about books!

Reader 2

Thanks for sharing and giving us panters someone to idolize.

Melissa Brayden

(they say some of the best characterization comes from pantsing)

Reader 2

I shall use this forever hahahaha

Reader 12

Thanks for writing all these awesome books.

Reader 6

Thanks for joining us, Melissa – it was great having you and feel free to pop by the Slack channel if you ever want to chat or promo a new release

Melissa Brayden

I think I will, now that I know where to find it. Have a great Sunday everyone!

I wrote a novel with Anna Cove!

Keep your lover close and your enemy closer… especially if they’re the same person.

Madison Blackstone is a lone wolf thief on a mission to win back the only family she has left. When a rare book surfaces on the black market, it’s just the thing to buy her brother’s love. The only thing is, she has to quit the heist lifestyle to earn his trust. Madison has planned her final job meticulously, but even in her wildest dreams she could never anticipate a rival like Cass.

Cass Hartley is fallen swindler royalty… fallen ever since her foolish heart got her legendary parents caught and jailed. A rare book with a hefty reward to pay back old debts should go a long way to clearing her conscience, and it should be an easy job – if Cass was the only one going after it.

When Cass and Madison meet, it’s inside a bank vault at midnight and they’re both reaching for the same safe deposit locker. Things go sideways fast as crew rivalries, double-crosses and vicious guard poodles foil their plans.

And then there’s the undeniable attraction building between them in tight spaces, dark rooms and adrenaline-fueled adventures. It has Madison questioning her choice to go clean, Cass wondering if she’s falling into the same old traps, and their crews wondering what the heck got into them.

Working together is the only way to get the book, but can they trust each other with the most precious treasure of all – their hearts?

From the bestselling Cara Malone and Anna Cove comes a fun, flirty book heist with twists, turns, and an unexpected romance.

Available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited on March 25th!