Knowing Her

She shows a thousand faces to the world,
tempting and tormenting,
seductive and surreal.

She is the richly scented roses
with their cliched velvety rouge,
provocative with promises of pleasure.

She is hiding beneath the damp ink
gleaming from tender prose and poetry
scrawled in cursive curlicues.

She lingers in whispered conversations,
warm snuggles and
stolen magic moments.

She rests in the wrinkled clasp
of two tired hands that have held the world
and wait to see one more dawn together.

She bears a hundred names,
in a thousand or more tongues.
She is versatile, whimsical and passionate.

She is fleeting and enduring,
paradoxical and timeless.
She is romance.

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An interview with author T R Byron

You blog, you write short stories, you’re a novelist and a poet. Do you have a preference for a particular format? Do you find it hard to switch between them?
I usually have a general idea of where I’m going, but I usually don’t know exactly where the stories will take me. Blogging is a stress reliever for me. As for poetry, that is my biggest struggle. Staying structured makes me a little crazy.

How long have you been writing?
Since I was in grade school. I came across a few books I wrote as a child. They are horrible! But you could tell that I had a knack for putting stories together. I was in my late twenties when I really started writing novels and short stories. My first novel I wrote in twenty-four hours. I couldn’t sleep, the story wouldn’t let me get any rest until I had it all written down. That one book turned into a four book series. This was during my VC Andrews phase and that series really shows it.

What has been the hardest thing for you so far on your writing journey?
Probably believing in myself, in work, that it is good enough. Aside from the common issues with grammar and missing words, I tend to be a perfectionist, and am constantly editing trying to make it better.

What genres do you write in? Do you have a favourite?
Romance and erotica mostly. I love flawed characters with heart. If I had to choose, it would definitely be Romance.

Do you ever find it hard to admit that you write erotica, or to let close friends/family read your erotica?
Definitely. Most people think erotica is porn and cannot see the difference. They focus on the sex and nothing more. And then, of course, there’s that little flash I will see in their eyes where some people wonder if I’m just a tramp. If you write about it so openly, then you must be doing something dirty. What they fail to see is sex is as natural as breathing. If feel that if I’m going to write about love and romance, it’s a natural progression, and leaving the intimacy out downplays its importance.

So, can you explain the difference between porn and erotica, when it comes to writing/reading?
I see porn as having no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire. Anyone can do that. Plot isn’t required in Pornography, nor is the emotional connection between the main characters. The characters usually don’t grow emotionally, stay together, or even in some instances like one another. Readers of porn want to read about sex, plain and simple. Pornography’s concentration lays in the physical activity between the characters. You won’t find a happily-ever-after here, but do expect a wham, bam, thank you ma’am. Don’t assume the word choices will be nice or sensual either. They won’t be. They can get rather crude, distasteful and cringe-worthy, which all depends on your preference of what you want and prefer

The driving force behind Erotica is exploring a character’s sexual discovery. I see it as a romance. Sex is the common link between Erotica and Romance, but the outcome of the story can be completely different. Erotica can easily leave the door open to the characters staying together, or going their separate ways, while in romance the couple must come together by the end of the book. All Romances have a hero and heroine that strive to be together no matter what, the reader expects to root for both, and to have the happy conclusion. What set Romance and Erotica apart are the details in the sex scenes itself. My erotic scenes fall in the middle of Romance and Porn. The most important thing to me is making that emotional connection between my characters and reader, and letting my readers enjoy the journey with them as well.

Are there any difficulties particular to writing erotica? For instance, I find it hard to write erotica in first person because I end up feeling like I’m writing about my own experiences even if I’m not!
I’m like you there and usually write in third person. It allows me to step outside and visual the scene more clearly in my head as I write from my characters point of view. The most difficult for me was my first erotica novel, Distracting Duncan. I had this one character who used women, loved prostitutes and used his status to the fullest. I had to write a scene where he gets physical with the prostitute, and I struggled for weeks to write that one scene. I had to keep stepping away, but when I finally completed it, it made me hate that character, and that was the emotion I really needed my reader to hone in on.

Are there any genres you’re afraid to try, or struggle to write in?
I try to put a little comedy in my stories. I love to laugh. I don’t think I could write a real tale of horror.

Do you read in the same genres that you write in?
Yes. I am always looking for a good romance to read.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
People inspire me. I like getting to know people, what makes them tick, those little things that make them smile. I get my ideas everywhere. I find myself watching television or movies and thinking, I wouldn’t have written it that way. I love good dialogue, and will often write certain phrases in a notebook to use for my characters.

Do you have a favourite author? Or perhaps an author you view as an inspiration?
I’ve read everything by VC Andrews and that is what really started me on my writing path. I am a huge fan of Linda Lael Miller and Maggie Shayne. Miller has great romances, a lot of them centered around cowboys. Maggie Shayne does supernatural. I like that even her darker characters have some endearing qualities.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Slow down and visualize the scene. In the beginning, I had a tendency to rush through just to get the story out. When I came to Writing.com, that’s when I really learned to slow the scene and work on painting a picture so the reader could catch a glimpse of what was happening.

What is your purpose in writing? Do you aspire to be published?
Being published is the dream. I even went so far as to pay $1500 for an editor who was supposed to shop my book around. After a year, and minimal editing, they sent my manuscript back. It was a good lesson. I’ve tried for years to find an agent, sending in manuscripts. Finally, last year, I decided to put my books out there on CreateSpace. Mostly family bought them, but I’ll never forget seeing my book in print.

What’s your favourite piece of your own writing?
My novel, A Perfect Fit. My main character has a lot of me in her. I think she’s the stronger, more outgoing version of me.

Anna flew out of the Boutique on cloud nine, ready to burst. In her excitement, she plowed right into someone on the street. Their hard figure was as unmovable as a brick wall. Her eyes focused on a chest covered in a light brown T-shirt. The man caught her at the elbow, preventing her from stumbling to the ground. When she looked up into his face, her knees almost buckled and her heart pounded at an erratic pace. Those eyes she knew so well looked down at her, and Nolan smiled for a change.

“Where’s the fire?”

Anna swallowed the hard lump in her throat. The mere sight of him, mixed with the feel of those strong hands holding onto her sent her pulse racing as she fought for control.

“Sorry. Guess I didn’t see you.” She couldn’t let that smile and those intoxicating dark eyes deceive her again. She refused to let him into her heart so he could take advantage of her emotions, not to mention her eager body. Their eyes met and locked, making Anna powerless to look away, even though she knew she should.

“That’s obvious. What are you doing in this part of town?” The softness in his eyes disappeared. The coldness returned while he continued to stare at her. One eyebrow lifted as he waited for her to respond. “Checking up on me or you just couldn’t stay away?”

“Try again,” she said taking a step back. Anna steeled her spine and stood tall as irritation flooded her. “If you must know I was offered a job, not that it’s any of your business.” The quick anger thankfully hardened her voice. This man was nothing but trouble, and trouble she didn’t need.

“So you are trying to get close to me, honey,” he said, moving closer.

Again with that word! The endearment rattled her mind and began to break away all her defenses, not that she had many when it came to him. The fact that he presumed she was following him galled her and reinforced Anna’s opinion about his massive ego. He did nothing more than irritate the hell out of her, knew it and enjoyed it.

“I’m not your honey, so don’t say it again. For your information, I don’t spend my days wondering where you are and what you’re doing.”

A Perfect Fit by T R Byron

Do you do anything in particular to promote your published works?
I did start a facebook page, and I had a few giveaways for my books, hoping that I would get some objective reviews from it, but sadly, nothing happened. I find it hard to try and promote myself, and I know I seriously need to look into doing that. I’ve considered donating a few of my books to my local library, but haven’t yet.

Is there a third book in the Endurance series, and when can we expect it to be available?
Books three and four are halfway complete. I started a big edit of Bride 2 Be, the third book in the series, and am hoping to finally finish it by the end of the year so I can complete book four.

You can find the first two books in T R Byron’s Endurance series, A Perfect Fit and Megan’s Man at her Amazon profile.

Books read in July

Strong Enough by Melanie Harlow and David Romanov *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Mature Content by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Just One Touch by Maya Banks *Star**Starw**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Healed By A Dragon by Lauren Lively *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

The Farther He Runs by Lynda Aicher *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Logan’s Need by Sloane Kennedy *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Never Seduce A Scot by Maya Banks *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Wondering Sight by Melissa McShane *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Skin Deep by S W Vaughn *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

After The End by Katie Ruggle *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Run To Ground by Katie Ruggle *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Just One Touch by Maya Banks
This book is so below Maya Banks’ normal standards. I know she can do better than this!

Okay, first off, the instalove. Jenna is a healer, and when Isaac is shot, she heals him. This is their very first interaction. Apparently Jenna doesn’t just heal Isaac’s body, but his soul too. He likens to her to an angel. Despite others she heals having very similar reactions, Isaac decides he is in love with Jenna, and she has no choice but to love him back. There is virtually no mention of any other facet of Jenna, just her amazing healing ability. He barely even knows her.

Jenna has lived an extremely sheltered life. She has never been touched in kindness by a man, let alone had a kiss or fallen in love. She falls for Isaac’s worship of her, and believes they are meant to be together. Again, she barely knows him and is more in love with the idea of being loved than anything particular to Isaac.

Secondly, Isaac’s ‘love’ for Jenna is more like obsession. There are numerous mentions of how he can’t ever let her go and how lucky it is that she loves him too because he wouldn’t let her go either way. Um, what? That’s so wrong, not to mention illegal. He even acknowledges the similarities between Jenna’s kidnappers and himself, noting that the only difference is that he would adore her instead of using her. Her permission seems irrelevant.

It’s all so wrong. And so shockingly beneath Maya Banks’ normal standards of book. Do NOT be put off Maya Banks if you haven’t read her other work. I’d even recommend the first three books in this series, where we meet Ari, Gracie and Ramie. Those three books were fantastic. The fourth didn’t do much for me, but this fifth Slow Burn novel is not worth your time and attention.

Mid year book freak out

I found this quiz over at Maxxesbooktopia and thought it’d be fun to give it a go.

Just to be clear, I’ve excluded all re-reads. So this only covers books read for the first time in 2017.

Best book you’ve read so far in 2017?
Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle.

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It’s tells the story of Lou, who moves to a small, isolated town in the Rocky Mountains and joins the dive rescue team.  There’s pretty much everything you could want in a book – suspense, action, romance, humour…  This book has it all.  The humour was what made it a five star read in the end I think.  The rest gave it depth and made it a great read, but the humour elevated it above other books I’ve read.

Best sequel of 2017 so far?
I’m going to have to go with Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell. This is the third book in the Cyberlove series, and I wrote some more about it in a previous blog post – Cyberlove.

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It features two gamers, and although they know each other online (and we met their online entities in the first book of the series), this book is where they meet in real life for the first time. It’s definitely worth reading the first book in the series before reading this one. I’ll be honest though, I skipped the second book in the series. If you’ve read it, let me know how it was.

Anyway, the two main characters are wonderfully crafted, and the book has depth. Despite that, I found it a really easy read and flew through it. The characters lingered with me though, as all good characters do.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to read?
Ooh, really tricky.  I assume by new release it doesn’t mean ones that are releasing later this year.  See, if I’m waiting for it, I usually read it straight away.  So I don’t have any that jump out.  However, I went for a browse (yep, while writing this post) and realised that a novella epilogue to Katie Ruggle’s Search and Rescue Series was released earlier this year.

After the End (Search and Rescue) by [Ruggle, Katie]

It’s actually free on Amazon, so saying I ‘bought’ it is a bit misleading, but I’ve downloaded it, and am looking forward to reading it.  Apparently it gives an intro to her Rocky Mountain K9 Unit series too, so hopefully it will lead me into another good series.

Most anticipated release of the second half of 2017?
That would have to be The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream by Christina Dodd.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

Merida Falcon is a world-class beauty, a trophy wife who seems to have it all…except she has no voice. For nine bitter years, she lived to serve her wealthy elderly husband. On his death, Merida vanishes…and reappears in Virtue Falls with a new name, a new look, and a plot to take revenge on the man who loved her, betrayed her and walked away, leaving her silent, abused and bound to an old man’s obsession.

I just hope I can get it in electronic format. I would read the earlier books in the series while I waited (nope, haven’t read any of them) but Amazon doesn’t seem to have any of the ebooks.  Does anyone know why?

Biggest disappointment?
That would definitely be Just One Touch, the fifth book in Maya Banks’ Slow Burn series.

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I’ve already written a review of this book so I won’t repeat all my opinions, but wow. A one star book that came with so much hype, and followed some great books earlier in the series.

Biggest surprise?
Hmm… I think I’m going to go with Bloodline by Barbara Elsborg.

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The blurb doesn’t really grab me, and I’m still not entirely sure what made me decide to give it a go. I had already read good books by the author, so there was that, and it had good reviews. Maybe that was enough. Anyway, it was well worth the read. The best part was definitely the humour. I love a book that makes me laugh without trying too hard or losing the connection between the characters. This was well done.

Favourite new author (debut or new to you)?
That would definitely have to be Katie Ruggle, whose Search and Rescue series I really enjoyed. Her first book was actually published last year, but I didn’t find it until this year. Interestingly, she released all six books (four full length novels and two novellas) in quick succession so that ‘readers didn’t have to wait too long to find out what happened next.’ Yes! I’m on board with that! Ha ha!

Newest fictional crush?
Ooh, I think I’m going to have to go with Zach from Dianne Duvall’s Immortal Guardian’s series. We get glimpses of Zach and I couldn’t wait to read his story which we finally get in Night Unbound.

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Zach is strong, both physically and mentally. He does what he thinks is right, regardless of what others think and he’s definitely got that mysterious vibe going for him. But ultimately, he won me over when the big badass sat on the roof with Ami, eating lollipops.

Newest favourite character?
I think that has to be Kai Bannon, from Strong Signal. That’s the first book in the Cyberlove series by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell.

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Kai is a wonderful mix of contrasts – somewhat of an exhibitionist, and yet suffering from crippling social anxiety.  I just loved him.

Book that made you cry?
Hmm… I’m a little embarrassed to admit there’s more than one! Okay, first one is Smoky Mountain Dreams by Leta Blake.

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There’s the death of a secondary character that hits one of the main characters really hard, plus some really emotional scenes.  Definitely a tearjerker.

Okay, second one is Unforgiven by Ruth Clampett.

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This book comes with a trigger warning for a reason.  Jason is suffering serious trauma as a result of childhood abuse, and his breakdown is just heartbreaking.  He truly reaches rock bottom, and it’s so hard to read.  I challenge you to read it without shedding a tear.

Okay, and my final one for this question is Logan’s Need by Sloane Kennedy.

Logan's Need (The Escort #3)

Again, this one features the death of a secondary character which hits both main characters really hard.  As the story goes on, we learn more and more about the character who died, and there are some truly bittersweet moments that make you wish that character was able to play a more current role in the story.

Book that made you happy?
Interesting question! Let me see… I’ve already mentioned Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle and Bloodline by Barbara Elsborg. Both had great humour. What else? How about Be True by Stella Starling.

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Trevor was such a fun character, and this was a really easy read without too much angst and darkness.

Favourite book to movie adaption you’ve seen this year
Ooh, tough. I don’t watch many movies. Erm… Maybe Allegiant? Did I see that this year or last? The BFG? I think that was last year too. Erm… I guess you could count Beauty and the Beast, but I honestly didn’t think it was that great, so not sure I wanna count it as a ‘favourite’. I know it’s not a movie, but I’ve just started watching Game of Thrones from season one, so I’m gonna count that.

Favourite review you’ve written this year?
I guess that’d have to be The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher.

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Here’s what I wrote:
Grady is a white water rafting guide, and his cousin invites him to join up with his company. On his first trip in the new job, Grady’s raft hits a submerged log, killing a man and putting his cousin in a coma.
Grady is overwhelmed with guilt, and currently waiting to hear if his name is cleared or if he is going to jail. In the meantime, he is visiting his cousin in hospital and trying desperately just to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Micah has experience with comas, and enjoys reading to coma patients. When he meets Grady, he offers to help him by answering some questions, talking things through and generally being a friend. But Micah works at a leather bar frequented by most of the guys that work at Grady’s job. The last thing Grady needs is for any of those dominant men to find out he has a submissive streak. No way can he work with them once they know that, they’ll never respect him.

This book was emotionally intense, and I got sucked in by both the main characters. They both have secrets and issues, which makes for a really well balanced book. Both characters grew and evolved over the course of the book, and both had to learn to accept themselves as they were and fight through their obstacles. Neither one was magically ‘healed’ of their issues, rather they had to learn to embrace themselves and figure out how to make their relationship work with those issues.

I’m not into the BDSM scene, but these characters are not heavily into it either. They’re more on the fringe of it. There are some scenes, but the actual relationship between the two men is very equal (which I liked). I think the next book will be heavier on that side of things, as the main character in the next book has already admitted to being a sadist. Whether the book is accurate about such things, I can’t say, you’ll have to form your own opinion.

Most beautiful book you bought or received so far this year?
Does that mean the one with the most beautiful cover? If that’s the case then, maybe it’d be Wondering Sight by Melissa McShane.

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What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
I don’t really have a ‘to be read’ pile at the moment, but one thing I hate is having half-finished books. Currently I have two books that are sitting half-finished and I am determined to get them read. The first is Between These Sheets by Devon McCormack.

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This book has some great characters, some great scenes, but oh my god, so much sex! Every now and then I get a bit fed up of reading all the sex and take a break from the book. Need to just finish it and be done with it.

The other book is Play of Passion by Nalini Singh.

Play of Passion: Book 9 (Psy-Challenging) by [Singh, Nalini]

This is book 9 of the Psy-Changeling series, and it’s a fantastic series. I know it gets better too, because I went to the Auckland Writing Festival and heard Nalini read from what was then a new release in the series, but I haven’t got to it yet. I have a signed copy of the first book in this series too. So yes, I will read this. I just have to be in the mood for it.

Ha, this quiz took me way longer to finish than I thought it would. I’d love to hear your answers. Tag me if you do the quiz so I can see what you’ve been reading!

A book review of Maya Banks’ Just One Touch

I have just finished reading Just One Touch by Maya Banks.  Maya Banks is probably my favourite author, which is really saying something when you read more than 140 books each year like I do.  I loved her Montgomery and Armstrong series, set in historical Scotland, which started with Never Seduce A Scot.  I have reread it a number of times.  I also loved her contemporary military KGI series, especially Whispers in the Dark, the fourth book, which I’ve reread a number of times. And I really enjoyed the first three books in the Slow Burn series which are contemporary military romances with strong paranormal aspects.  I’ve read quite a few of her other books too, including a few of her more risque books.  So, having said all that, Just One Touch, the fifth book in the Slow Burn series, is so below Maya Banks’ normal standards. I rated it just one star.

First off, there was the instalove. Jenna is a healer, and when Isaac is shot, she heals him. This is their very first interaction. Apparently Jenna doesn’t just heal Isaac’s body, but his soul too. He likens to her to an angel. Despite others she heals having very similar reactions, Isaac decides he is in love with Jenna, and she has no choice but to love him back. There is virtually no mention of any other facet of Jenna, just her amazing healing ability. He barely even knows her.

Jenna has lived an extremely sheltered life. She has never been touched in kindness by a man, let alone had a kiss or fallen in love. She falls for Isaac’s worship of her, and believes they are meant to be together. Again, she barely knows him and is more in love with the idea of being loved than anything particular to Isaac.

Secondly, Isaac’s ‘love’ for Jenna is more like obsession. There are numerous mentions of how he can’t ever let her go and how lucky it is that she loves him too because he wouldn’t let her go either way.

“God, I’m such a bastard to even think that way, much less say it out loud, when you’ve been a prisoner for damn near your entire life, and yet here I am locking you up again and refusing to free you. But honey, it will be the sweetest of prisons. I swear on my life that I’ll spoil you ridiculously and pamper and take care of you and love you so damn much that you never look at it for what it is—a prison—but instead you’ll only see your forever home.

Um, what? That’s so wrong, not to mention illegal. Just because you treat her well doesn’t mean that you can take away someone’s freedom and right to choose.  He even acknowledges the similarities between Jenna’s kidnappers and himself, noting that the only difference is that he would adore her instead of using her. Her permission seems irrelevant.

He swallowed back his sudden insecurity, because Jesus fuck, he was as crazy and obsessed and over the top as Jaysus, only Isaac’s obsession was with making her laugh, smile, giving her every single thing, no matter how large or small, her heart desired from now until the end of their time on earth together. And then he’d simply follow her into the afterlife, where he’d continue driving her every bit as crazy as he knew he’d likely drive her in this lifetime, and he felt not one iota of remorse, nor would he ever apologize, for his brand of obsession.

It’s all so wrong. And so shockingly beneath Maya Banks’ normal standards of book. Do NOT be put off Maya Banks if you haven’t read her other work. I’d even recommend the first three books in this series, where we meet Ari, Gracie and Ramie. Those three books were fantastic. The fourth didn’t do much for me, but this fifth Slow Burn novel is not worth your time and attention.

An interview with author S. H. Pratt / C. K. Brewer

‘“How goes the battle?” Spencer asked as he sat beside her with his own lunch.
“Not bad. Did you know that there is someone famous teaching here?” Rissa smirked.
“You know, I’d heard that rumor. I hope the fame won’t go to everyone’s head.” Spencer teased.
“I think we’re safe. Fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Rumor has it that the famous person left fame and fortune behind because she’d lost all of her marbles and really needed to collect them.” Rissa sighed sadly.
“Oh no, not the lost marble syndrome! I wonder how successful her campaign to collect her marbles is going.” Spencer commiserated.
“Beautifully. She has settled down, found a nice man who kisses her like she’s the only soul he’s ever wanted, reconnected with her family, and found a possible direction for her life away from fame and fortune.” Rissa deadpanned. Spencer chuckled.
“Only soul, huh?” he arched an eyebrow over the frame of his glasses. “How do you know he isn’t kissing her like that because she’s the only soul who ever made him want to kiss that way?”
“I don’t, but that certainly raises some interesting points, doesn’t it?” Rissa snickered.
“Points indeed,” Spencer laughed.’
~ The Artist’s Touch Epic Romance Book 1 by S. H. Pratt

You’ve published a number of novels as S H Pratt. Tell us a little about them and your journey to being a published author.
The romance novels I’ve published are all heavily based in real life headlines and psychology. Many of them have a strong suspense thread woven through them as well as some humor to lighten things up. I began writing semi-seriously as a teen but shelved it in favor of attempting to find ‘a real job’. Turns out my ‘real job’ is being a full-time mom and a full-time writer. I attempted to conform to the standard of Harlequin Romance Publishing but was told that because my writing deals with such intense psychological matter, it was too dark for their readers. Because I love my stories and refuse to dumb them down or soften the subject matter, I chose to research my options which led me to publish my work independently. I love the freedom this choice has afforded me and have left the notion of being with a Big 5 publishing company in the dust.

There are a great number of self published books these days, and a common complaint is that they are not sufficiently edited. Did you edit your own books?
I say I edit my books myself, but this is not entirely true. I have a team of alpha and beta readers who read through each chapter as I write them. Then I read through the entire manuscript from the beginning and then again, starting from the end and reading forward. After that, I have a proofreader/editor who is a friend of mine read through it (we trade our editing services – I read her works and she reads mine) and then before I publish, I still read it through again, this time out loud as though to a group of people. Unfortunately, as a human, misspellings still get through, but I’ve found that I’m more thorough and picky than most editors I’ve come across.

Did you find that you had to bring in experts of any description (eg. cover designers) at all? Or did you do the whole process by yourself?
I began this crazy journey into self-publishing with the notion that a small self-publishing company would be better than me trying to do everything myself. Unfortunately, I found a company that was less than reputable with interests more in my money than my books. Their “editing” was horrendous and I hated the covers they did. Because I don’t use models of any sort on my covers, it seemed to flummox them. After my contracted two books were done, I fired them, took back control of my books and republished them. My husband is a photographer and doesn’t mind when I bring him flowers and an idea for a cover. Between he and I, we create covers that pertain to the story within that are different from the typical “Fabio” style of covers. I also have a fair number of professionals, like medical personnel, peace officers, etc. who willing read parts (or sometimes the entire book) to ensure that the facts I’ve used are correct.

Do you think that different skills are required for writing novels as opposed to short stories?
I do think that you need different skills for writing full length novels than you do for short stories. However, I believe the skills used for the short stories strengthen the ones necessary for novels. I actually use short stories, particularly those with specific word counts, to help me eliminate extraneous words and ideas. This then translates into stronger novels with less ‘fluff” in them.

Like me, you have gifted children. We both know the struggle of finding age-appropriate reading material that challenges our children, and both of us have taken it upon ourselves to ‘fill that gap’ by attempting to write a children’s novel. How have you found writing a novel for gifted children? What were the challenges for you? 
I find writing children’s fiction to be much more challenging, in general, than romance. In romance, my world around me is the world I use and the source of my inspiration. However in my kid’s fantasy work, I have to create the world including its flora, fauna, and details in minutia. Also, as my intention was to give kids around the age of ten and up content that is appropriate while still challenging them, I have to use extra caution to keep the content child friendly. It sounds easy but has presented me with the need to rethink my own thought processes. I love writing the fantasy stories though because it’s a refreshing and invigorating change and challenge from the romance.

‘The monumental stone vibrated, shaking the temple violently. Srÿche stood, bracing himself in the stone archway, struggling to stay upright through the intense quaking. He watched, his black eyes narrowed, as a blue haired imp Shimmered into being in the archway across from him. She was miniscule compared to his six foot height, but he knew she was his equal in power. He felt the Magic radiating off of her across the expanse of the room and it made his bones ache.
Safina stood in her archway, her arms stretched out wide against the stone in an effort to stabilize herself. She nodded politely to Srÿche, her azure blue hair bobbing. He ignored her, turning away with a scowl, and focused his attention back on the stone. Safina rolled her eyes and turned her gaze to the stone as well.
As they watched, the monolithic stone began to glow a warm amber color. Small pieces of the crumbling temple began to fall as the quaking intensified, nearly bringing the pair of Magicians to their knees. Just as the shuddering reached a tempo that threatened to destroy the temple and everything within it, the quaking stone split in two and an unearthly voice echoed through the temple.

“Under Marching Moon afar;
A humble child born;
Noble and Royal hence;
To seek the DragonStar;
Mend the sword t’was torn;
Save Velania from obsolescence.”

As the echoing voice died, the vibrations reached a new pitch that sent a massive shock wave emanating from the broken rock. As if drawing a deep breath, the air seemed to flow rapidly into the fissure. With an earth shattering explosion, a second, stronger shock wave burst from the stone. The entire temple exploded in a mass of stone and dirt leaving only the two archways standing.
Safina and Srÿche, both doubled over from the force of the Magic, fell to their knees and covered their heads as the temple fell around them. The Magical shock wave overcame them, making their bodies scream with pain and their minds spasm in agony. As the Magic ebbed and the quaking slowed, the two Magicians rose slowly. Breathing heavily, exhausted, and aching from the intensity of the Magic, they stood, surrounded by the rubble of what once had been the Temple of the Oracle. Without a word, look, or acknowledgement of each other, they Shimmered and disappeared.’
~ DragonStar by C. K. Brewer (to be released 2018)

Have your kids read your work? What did they think?
Obviously, they don’t read the romance, but yes, my two youngest children have read the first novel of my fantasy series, DragonStar. They were my first beta readers and according to their constant questions as to when the actual book will be in their hands, I believe they enjoyed it. They said they did anyway. *Laugh*

What made you decide to use two different non de plumes?
I write adult romance with extreme subject matter and occasionally strong language as S. H. Pratt. I really, really didn’t want kids of 10+ to pick up one of my romance books and be scarred for life. Therefore, prudence dictated a second name strictly for fantasy and science fiction. *BigSmile*

Is there a reason that neither of your non de plumes use a full first name?
My full name is quite long and I didn’t want to take up half the book cover with it so I shortened it to my initials and that is my romance author name. Also, I didn’t want to worry about privacy should the miracle happen and I suddenly become famous.
As I was pretty much flying by the seat of my pants with the fantasy name but knew I wanted something that could not be confused with my romance author name, I took an old family name (Brewer) and then took my grandmother’s name on that side of the family and my favorite cousin on that side and used their initials rather than sounding weird with “Clara Kyle”.

Do you agree with the old adage ‘write what you know’?
I absolutely do.

Why?
It’s much more comfortable for me to write about things I have some knowledge of rather than trying to put my mind into a dark void of the unknown. Granted, I still heavily research things I know or have experienced because I don’t know everything about it, but I find it’s easier to put a bit of me into the story if my emotions are tied with the subject matter.

What’s the most important writing skill you’ve learned?
I think it’s to accept that writing is fluid. Every day is new and my skills shift ever so subtly. Without that constant change and growth, writing would become a bore and would cease to be a challenge. As a result, my editing skills, plotting skills, and imagination have all improved.

What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Don’t give up and don’t stop learning. If you have a story to tell, tell it. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t and understand that in writing that story, you need to let yourself grow with the experience as a writer, editor, proofreader, reader, and person.

You can check out more of S H Pratt’s work here:
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And you can follow C. K. Brewer on Facebook.

Cyberlove

Prompt: Go to a book you’re currently reading, and turn to page 56. On that page, go to the fourth complete sentence. That’s your prompt…at the end of your entry please list the title, author, and sentence.

This cracks me up. I followed the instructions and the sentence I got was ‘Was he there now?’ But you know what makes it so funny? It was preceded by so many more interesting sentences! *Facepalm*

‘Alone in my room, I could take off my pants – because fuck pants – sit on my bed in my briefs, and eat. My give-a-fucks were at level zero. And knowing Ian’s room was right down the hall didn’t make shit any better. Was he there now?’

*Laugh* See what I mean?

This book is the third one in the Cyberlove series by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell. The first one was Strong Signal, which I read in March and rated 4 stars. It featured a gamer who streamed on Twitch, and a soldier. It was an interesting read for me, because I had no knowledge of Twitch, and very little knowledge of gaming and streaming if I’m honest, and my husband started streaming on Twitch at about that same time. So yeah, I was quite fascinated by the insights into that world that my husband was entering.

The characters were really well developed, and Kai was fantastic. I loved him. He had these wonderfully extroverted traits, but also suffered from crippling social anxiety, to the point where he couldn’t even go to the supermarket. He hid behind his online persona, something I think many people online can relate to.

I must admit, I skipped the second book in the series. It featured another soldier, but seemed to deviate from the gaming world, which I found more interesting. The third book, Hard Wired, is back to the gaming. Cherry and Garvy are mods for Kai’s Twitch stream, so Kai and Garrett from the first book make a few appearances. That theme of hiding behind an online persona comes back – while Garvy is much the same online as he is IRL, Cherry is not like anyone expected. There’s a lot of soul searching going on, and I’m enjoying the book. So far it’s proving as good as the first.