Author Spotlight: Garrett Leigh

For this week’s Author Spotlight, I’m joined by the fabulous Garrett Leigh to talk crushing annoying stereotypes, living for angsty hurt comfort, and character arcs!

Take it away Garrett…

First things first, please introduce yourself!
Hi! I’m Garrett. I’m a British romance author and cover artist. My first book was published in 2013 and I’ve been on this crazy train ever since.

Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
I write angsty, hurt/comfort books most of the time. Around Christmas, you might find some lighter, sweeter stuff from me, but I write the books I like to read, and I live for the pain 🙂

Describe your books in only three words.
Hot. Gritty. Consuming.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on an MC romance at the moment that will likely be a prequel to a longer series. It’s rough and ready and, believe it or not, grittier than anything I’ve written before.

Out of all your books, which one are you most proud of?
That’s like asking me to choose between my children.

What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
My own sexuality is a big influence. I write mainly bisexual characters as it gives me a chance to explore and explain what it is to be bi (for me) and crush some of those annoying stereotypes.

What inspired you to start writing?
I was frustrated with my life at the time. Writing gave me an escape and I’m incredibly lucky that it turned into an actual real life job.

What’s your writing process like? Do you have a typical “writing day”?
I walk the dogs. Have a decaff coffee, then I hunker down. Nothing gets done until those words are down. Sometimes this takes all day, sometimes a few hours, but I commit to this at least 5 days a week.

What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
Mostly the characters. The plot is the hardest part for me. I get lost easily. Character arcs are much more natural to craft. I love people.

What’s a book that you wish you’d written?
Oh that changes all the time. I couldn’t possibly give a definitive answer.

If you could only write one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Angsty hurt comfort. Darker the better. I am shamelessly addicted.

What would be your three desert island books?
Junk, by Melvin Burgess. Firework, by Sarina Bowen. Marrying the Mistress, by Joanna Trollop.

If one of your books could be made into a movie/TV series, which would you choose and who would you cast?
Ooooh, definitely the Darkest Skies series, though I don’t know about the cast. Second option would be my military novels, Between Ghosts and Only Love. I’ve had those cast in my head for years. Cam Gigadet for Jed Cooper. Chris Hemsworth or Charlie Hunnum for Nat Thompson.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
I love to cook (almost as much as I like to eat) and I’m a big fan of hiking outside with my dogs. Other than that, you’ll find me swinging in my hammock with my Kindle.

Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
Velociraptor. They remind me of my backyard chickens.

GARRETT LEIGH is an award-winning British writer and book designer.

Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with photographer Dan Burgess.

For more information on Garrett and her work you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Amazon, Bookbub, her website, and her newsletter. You can also join her Facebook group, Garrett’s Den, for more news and updates.

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Always Eli is Here!

Are you ready for some sass, some steam, and some heart warming sweetness?

Well I have plenty for you because Always Eli is now live on Kindle and KU!

It’s got brother’s best friend, an office romance, a Mamma Mia! sing along, an emo drag queen, a big, nosey family, plenty of snark, and some very inappropriate use of office desks… I mean, it’s an office romance – I couldn’t resist the temptation!

I’m so excited for you to meet Eli and Tristan, and I hope you love them as much as I do.

What happens when a sassy drag queen falls for his brother’s best friend?

Eli Baker needs a job. Drag isn’t paying the bills and the life of a starving artist isn’t as fun when he’s the one living it. Taking a temporary office job is meant to be a quick fix. It’s not supposed to reintroduce him to the funny, sharp, and sweet Tristan Rose… who just so happens to be Eli’s oldest brother’s best friend.

Eli can’t stand his brother, and the feeling is more than mutual. Getting involved with Tristan could mean family trouble, but Eli’s never been one for following the rules, especially when breaking them means annoying his brother.

Tristan is far too intriguing to ignore, especially when he takes an interest in Eli’s life outside the office. He’s not at all what Eli expects, and maybe that’s exactly what Eli needs. But if push comes to shove, will Tristan choose Eli over his best friend?

Always Eli is a 78,000-word contemporary MM romance featuring fabulous drag shows, secret biscuits, an office romance, and numerous siblings who can’t help getting involved.

Buy Now

“If you enjoy a smart and funny story with captivating characters, who are devoted to each other and not afraid to show it leading to so. much. romance. then I’d highly recommend checking out Charlie Novak’s Always Eli.”

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Author Spotlight: Keira Andrews

For today’s Author Spotlight, I’m joined by the wonderful Keira Andrews! We talked about focusing on emotions, loving the push and pull of hate to love, and putting the finishing touches on a historical fantasy duet.

Over to you Keira…

First things first, please introduce yourself!
Thanks for having me here, Charlie! I’m Keira, and I celebrated my 15th publiversary in M/M romance this year. The genre has grown so much since I started, and I’ve been writing full time since 2013. My books span a variety of genres in M/M–contemporary, historical, paranormal–anywhere ideas strike. Happy endings are always guaranteed! 

Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
Hmm. It doesn’t tend to be too flowery, and I focus on emotions as well as compelling and unique plotlines.

Describe your books in only three words.
Sexy, varied, satisfying.

What are you working on right now?
I’m putting the finishing touches on a historical fantasy duet releasing in October. The cover reveal is coming soon!

Out of all your books, which one are you most proud of?
So hard to choose, but I think Semper Fi. My late father helped me with the WWII-era research, and I think it’s a moving story of love against the odds and finding a happy ending even if it couldn’t be loud and proud. Queer love in the past was just as strong.

What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
Probably fanfiction. I started reading and writing it around 2000, and it was so intensely satisfying to have queer content at the forefront with sex and romance. I love giving readers what they want.

What inspired you to start writing?
As a kid, I would jot down stories about my fave soap, Another World. So I suppose that was fanfic too!

What’s your writing process like? Do you have a typical “writing day”?
I usually write in the morning after exercising, or sometimes before. But I’m not a night owl anymore, so the earlier the better.

What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
Bit of both. It really depends on the book, but they usually go hand in hand.

What’s a book that you wish you’d written?
A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. Such a perfect blend of plot, characters, and romance.

If you could only write one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Hmm. Probably hate to love. I just adore the push and pull and slow burn of emotion.

What would be your three desert island books?
I can’t choose only three!

If one of your books could be made into a movie/TV series, which would you choose and who would you cast?
I’d chose A Forbidden Rumspringa and the other books in my Amish gay romance series. I can imagine Dylan O’Brien as Isaac. I’m not sure about David, but I think the story would make an awesome TV show if I do say so myself.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
No secret passions! But I enjoy watching TV, movies, and sports such as figure skating and tennis. I also love reading and walking, though not at the same time. 

Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
I can’t say I’ve ever really considered it, but I’ll go with T-Rex. They make a statement!

After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, KEIRA ANDREWS discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal, and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

For more information on Keira and her work you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Amazon, Bookbub, her website, and her newsletter. You can also join her Facebook group, Keira Andrew’s Romance Readers, for more news and updates.

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Coming Soon: Always Eli

I’m super excited to share the cover and blurb for my BRAND NEW novel, Always Eli, that comes out in just two weeks!

It’s a hot, hilarious and heart warming contemporary romance featuring an office romance, a sassy drag queen, and soft financial advisor just waiting for someone to bring him out of his shell!

This novel will also kick off my brand new series: Forever Love.

If you’ve read Proficiency Bonus, you may recognise Eli as one of Lewis’s brothers, and there are several more of them who need HEAs too. Keep an eye out for those in 2022. 

Always Eli will be out on 23rd September, but you can pre-order now so Eli and Tristan arrive on your Kindle on release day, just check out the link below.

Always Eli

Coming 23rd September 2021

What happens when a sassy drag queen falls for his brother’s best friend?

Eli Baker needs a job. Drag isn’t paying the bills and the life of a starving artist isn’t as fun when he’s the one living it. Taking a temporary office job is meant to be a quick fix. It’s not supposed to reintroduce him to the funny, sharp, and sweet Tristan Rose… who just so happens to be Eli’s oldest brother’s best friend.

Eli can’t stand his brother, and the feeling is more than mutual. Getting involved with Tristan could mean family trouble, but Eli’s never been one for following the rules, especially when breaking them means annoying his brother.

Tristan is far too intriguing to ignore, especially when he takes an interest in Eli’s life outside the office. He’s not at all what Eli expects, and maybe that’s exactly what Eli needs. But if push comes to shove, will Tristan choose Eli over his best friend?

Always Eli is a 78,000-word contemporary MM romance featuring fabulous drag shows, secret biscuits, an office romance, and numerous siblings who can’t help getting involved.

Pre-Order Now

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Author Spotlight: Barbara Elsborg

For today’s Author Spotlight, I’m joined by the fabulous Barbara Elsborg! We talked about love conquering all, touching people’s hearts and making her own Christmas cards.

Take it away Barbara…

First things first, please introduce yourself!
Hi everyone, I’m Barbara or Barb or Baba! I live in the south-east of England and I write every day, seven days a week much to my husband’s disapproval, but I can’t help myself. It’s a passion and obsession. Husband wishes I was obsessed with making money. Ha! I def. don’t write for money. 

Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
 I don’t plan or plot anything. I sit and write and see what comes out. It has the advantage of keeping things fresh but can lead to moments of- what the hell have I done – when I find I’ve written myself into a corner. I love banter and humour but most of my books have a dark edge to them too. I’m a sucker for damaged guys. Very few of my heroes have happy families behind them. But all my books have a happy ending. Love DOES conquer all and I want readers to share the happiness of my characters. 

Describe your books in only three words.
Humorous, dramatic, different.

What’s your next book about and when is it coming out?
Jonty’s Halloween will be out on the 20th September.  It’s a follow up to my other books about Jonty – who’s probably my most popular character – and it’s what goes wrong and right about Jonty organising a Halloween event at the Dunes Hotel in Bamburgh. I think it’s pretty funny so I hope readers enjoy it. 

Out of all your books, which one are you most proud of?
The Story of Us. It touched people’s hearts in a way I had not expected. It brought me to the attention of a couple of guys in LA who were trying – before Covid hit – to find a film or TV studio who would be interested in the book. I brought me more readers emails than any other book.

What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
Being lonely as a child, introverted and not interested in going out, meant I watched a lot of TV. I made TV and film stars my friends. I walked to school with them and started to write stories about them. Fan fiction of a sort. I have 100s of those stories – very drama driven, and that type of story led to me writing my first novel. So the short answer is TV was the biggest influence!

What inspired you to start writing?
 See above. My first novel – still in the wardrobe – was written because I was bored in my first job. I had a lot of free time so I filled it with the tale of a woman caught up in a mafia family in New York. I hadn’t even been to the USA at that point. 

What’s your writing process like? Do you have a typical “writing day”?
8 to 4 or 5 sometimes. I write better in the morning. My concentration levels drop as the day progresses. I usually go over what I wrote the day before and then write on. Lots of coffee and several spoons of peanut butter get me through the day. 

What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
They come together. I get an idea for a story and then the characters form with the story. But I’m character driven, for sure.

What’s a book that you wish you’d written?
A Gentleman in Moscow. I love that book. But I read a huge amount and I fall in love with a book at least once a month!

If you could only write one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Enemies to lovers – and I haven’t written many of those, but I do love it. It’s hard to do it well, I think.

What would be your three desert island books?
How to Survive on a Desert Island, a dictionary, and Alice Winter’s first Hitman book!

If one of your books could be made into a movie/TV series, which would you choose and who would you cast?
The Edge of Forever – which is about an American cowboy teaching Russians how to be cowboys. I’m hopeless at casting. I know the faces I like and I’m hugely picky! So any of the faces on my books would be great!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
It’s only a once a year thing, but I do love making my own Christmas cards. I’ve done it for as long as I’ve been sending them. But my time when I’m not writing is taken up by grandkids. I have 2 in Texas as well, but sadly, we’ve not been able to go for 20 months.

Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
T-Rex and if you read Jonty’s Halloween you’ll see why!

BARBARA ELSBORG lives in Kent in the south of England. She always wanted to be a spy, but having confessed to everyone without them even resorting to torture, she decided it was not for her. Volcanology scorched her feet. A morbid fear of sharks put paid to marine biology. So instead, she spent several years successfully selling cyanide.

After dragging up two rotten, ungrateful children and frustrating her sexy, devoted, wonderful husband (who can now stop twisting her arm) she finally has time to conduct an affair with an electrifying plugged-in male, her laptop.

She writes stories about two guys, two guys and one woman, and one guy and one woman in most genres—contemporary, paranormal, sci fi, suspense, urban fantasy. Her books feature bad boys and quirky heroines, and she hopes they are as much fun to read as they are to write. 

She loves hearing from readers and can be contacted at bjelsborg@gmail.com If you’d like to hear about future releases please ask to be put on her mailing list.

For more information on Barbara and her work you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Bookbub, and her website. You can also join her Facebook group, Barbara’s Besties, for more news and updates.

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Author Spotlight: Brittany Cournoyer

For today’s Author Spotlight, I’m joined by the wonderful Brittany Cournoyer! We chatted about bratty side characters, writing different things and Jeff Goldblum cameo’s.

Over to you Brittany…

First things first, please introduce yourself!
Hello! My name is Brittany, and I currently reside in Indiana with my fur baby, Delilah aka Queen D. I had to make the hard choice to go back to work full time, and when I’m not either working, writing, or being bossed around by Delilah, I love watching true crime (research) and the Hallmark channel (also research). 

Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
 I love to write bratty side characters who redeem themselves in their own book. I truly believe almost everyone deserves a second chance, and I like to throw sarcasm and humor into every book I write, even the paranormal or suspense. And banter is my favorite thing to write.

Describe your books in only three words.
 This one is super hard since I write so many different things. But I guess I’ll go with: Entertaining, snarky, and varied. 

What are you working on right now?
I’ve had a lot of stuff happen in the last few months that has slowed down my writing, but I am a few thousand words into something new that is “supposed” to be a stand-alone, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m pretty sure anyone who reads this knows why I put “supposed” in quotations.

Out of all your books, which one are you most proud of?
Sinister Shadows. That was my psychological thriller that really pushed me as a writer.  I had to trick my readers into feeling empathy toward the villain only for a huge twist at the end.

What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
Stephen King for sure, since I love the dark and mysterious, and that man can tell a story. Also Lucy Lennox, Kyleen Neuhold, and Aimee Nicole Walker. All for different reasons, but each one plays a major impact for why I want to push myself even harder. 

What inspired you to start writing?
 I’ve always wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. From an early age there are VHS tapes of me sitting on my mom’s lap reading a book. And as I got older, the books got thicker but the stories in my head got louder, so I started writing them down on notebooks when I should’ve been paying attention at school. Writing them to turn them into a book seemed like a natural transition.

What’s your writing process like? Do you have a typical “writing day”?
When I was writing full time, I’d get up, take Delilah on her walk, get her fed, make coffee, and then sit down in hopes to reach my daily writing goal. Sometimes I’d go over, sometimes I’d stop when the chapter ended. I try to use the Forest Focus app to block out social media and anything tempting, and then, once reaching my goal (or coming close) I’ll reward myself with a book I’m dying to read or a show I want to watch. In between sprints, I’d pause to let D out on breaks or just stretch to keep the blood flowing. 

What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
The plot.

What’s a book that you wish you’d written?
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Only because it’s the one big I remember reading over and over again when I was younger, and growing up, I read it during the time I was going through puberty. And I’m sure a lot of girls growing up around that time felt the same way. 

If you could only write one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Probably rom-com since I enjoy writing snarky banter and funny scenes.

What would be your three desert island books?
Rocket Science by Kyleen Neuhold. Confessions: Robbie by Ella Frank. And The Stand by Stephen King (that book is long so it’d eat up a lot of time getting through it lol).

If one of your books could be made into a movie/TV series, which would you choose and who would you cast?
Hmmmm that’s a tough one, but probably Godfather Wars since it was just such a fun, cute book to write. And I don’t care who is cast in it as long as one of the actors is Tom Ellis and Jeff Goldblum has a cameo lol.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
 I’m slowly attempting to knit a scarf, and I like to spend my time up at Lake Michigan since it’s a few hours away. And I know I’m late to the party, but I recently started to binge watch the show Reba, and I’m almost finished!

Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
 Definitely a Brontosaurus!

Brittany was born in a small town in Alabama and moved to Indiana when she was thirteen years old. She currently resides there and, when not writing, works in customer service. In her free time, she loves to spend her free time writing stories, playing with her puppy, Delilah, watching television, and spending time with loved ones.

You can find more about Brittany’s work by following her on Facebook and Instagram. You can also join her Facebook group, Brittany’s Men and Mayhem, for more news and updates.

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Author Spotlight: C.P. Harris

For today’s Author Spotlight, I’m very excited to be joined by the wonderful C.P. Harris! We talked writing about gray areas, toxic relationships, possessive MCs and being the opposite of fluffy.

So, without further ado…

First things first, please introduce yourself!
Hi everyone! My pen name is C.P. Harris, but my friends call me Tina (long story lol). My day job consists of crunching numbers, even though math was my least favorite subject in school. I’m a mom to 16 YO twins, and between that, my day job, and my zeal for living a full life, I often don’t get to write as much as I’d like. 

One of my many dreams is to become a successful screenwriter, and I’m currently turning my debut, Surviving the Merge (Chadwick #1), into a screenplay. I have the HBO Max and Netflix logo on my vision board. I definitely see this as a mini series on one of those platforms. 

Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
I write MM romance that specializes in hurt/comfort and possessive mc’s. So you’ll always get a bit of both in my books. To what degree depends on what the characters tell me. 

I focus a lot on the gray areas of my characters. The not so pretty things that make us human, that make us relatable. Even if you’ve never gone through the challenges that my characters have, you understand their pain, joy, jealousy, insecurities etc… because it’s what we’ve all experienced even if we only admit it to ourselves.

My writing is on the opposite spectrum of fluffy (fingers crossed that one day I can churn out something light lol). 

Describe your books in only three words.
Raw. Emotional. Toxic. 

What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on an enemies to lovers story for a dark mm romance anthology, These Deviant Ties, that releases in December. You can find out more about the anthology here.

The mc’s are heads of rival mafia families and have minor roles in my full length work in progress. I’m having a lot of fun creating their story, but I can’t come up with a title, so join my Facebook group to take part in coming up with a title 🙂

Out of all your books, which one are you most proud of?
That’s tough. Probably The Boy Who Loved Wicked. I wrote it through a bad case of writer’s block and burn out. I also had to tap into the most vulnerable parts of myself to write it. I was Phoenix when I was 18, and I had a Mr. Wicked in my life. I had to relive a lot of emotions from that time. I cried over my laptop keys many days writing Wicked. It’s also the only book of mine that I don’t second guess. I don’t care how others feel about it, I know I did well.

What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
The human plight. The ugliness of it. My past toxic relationships, dysfunctional families.

Characters like Nina Garrity from The New Husband. What makes her stay when red flags are falling in abundance from the sky? 

Camille Preaker from Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects changed my life and got me working on a thriller I’ve had in my head for years.

This is what inspires me and where I see my career as a writer going.

What inspired you to start writing?
Not finding what I was looking for, honestly. Figured I’d have to write it myself. Then I had a dream about an androgynous stripper who was having an affair with his husband’s alter. I woke up and immediately started writing Surviving the Merge. 

What’s your writing process like? Do you have a typical “writing day”?
My process sucks. I spend most of the time on the internet, and then end up with a couple paragraphs after being at my laptop for hours. I’ve got to do better lol.  

What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
The hint of a plot. Always the opening line, the conflict, and the end. I guess the characters too, because I’m envisioning them within the initial idea. But I’m a panster, and I never have a handle on who my characters are until the revision process starts. That’s when I fine tune their traits and make sure that who they are remains consistent throughout the story even as they grow. 

What’s a book that you wish you’d written?
Hands down The Captive Prince trilogy. I reread it all the time. I just love it, and I hope to be at that writing level one day. Laurent is the most complex character I’ve ever read.

If you could only write one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
The possessive mc lol. I hate it in real life, but it’s such a turn on in books. My readers might get sick of me, because I just gotta squeeze it into everything I write.

What would be your three desert island books?
Is it cheating if my choices are series? 
– The Captive Prince trilogy by C.S. Pacat
– The Venery Series by Suanne Laqueur 
– Book of Orlando by Laura Lascarso 

If one of your books could be made into a movie/TV series, which would you choose and who would you cast?
Surviving the Merge. I have no idea who I’d cast! That’s going to be the hard part, or someone else’s job lol. 

Anyone know of any actors with a lean dancer’s body, long, ashen hair and beguiling green eyes that could play Justin?

Or a dark and intimidating latin sensation that could play the overwhelming presence of Damon? 

I’m open to suggestions 🙂

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
I love traveling and having girl time with my friends. I’m simple that way. No hidden talents 😦

Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
I’m going to say T-rex because it’s the only name I know.

After strolling aimlessly in search of her purpose, a dream one April morning helped the puzzle pieces click into place for C.P. Harris. That dream turned into her first novel Surviving the Merge. Now securely rooted in her destiny, C.P. has no plans of looking back and every intention of fulfilling her life’s calling– if her teenage twins and her cats will let her. Romance is where her heart is, but she has plans to spread her wings across genres.

You can find more about C.P.’s work on her website, as well as following her on BookBub and Instagram. You can also join her Facebook group, C.P.’s Gray Areas, for more news and updates.

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Author Spotlight: J.L. Gribble

For today’s Author Spotlight, I’m delighted to be joined by Speculative Fiction author, and book reviewer, J.L. Gribble! We talked breaking genre tropes, queer mercenary warrior-mages and building LEGO.

So, without further ado…

First things first, please introduce yourself!
Hi, I’m J.L. Gribble, speculative fiction writer and voracious reader! I fell in love with writing back in middle school, when before that I wanted to be an astronaut. I literally started my first book while at Space Camp. These days, I support my writing habit through my day job as a medical editor in the HIV care and LGBTQ healthcare field (and to keep my three Siamese cats in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed). When not writing, playing video games, or arguing with the spouse about what to watch next on streaming, I also spend a significant amount of time reading all of the queer romance (bonus points if it’s paranormal, kinky, nerdy, and/or poly) and reviewing books on my blog.

Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
I love to nerd out about genre tropes and then break all the rules. My urban fantasy has a healthy dose of alternate history, I base my magic system and supernatural creatures on physics principles, and focus more on character than spectacle. As a speculative fiction writer, I understand that romance writers are the real magicians of the field. That being said, I make sure that relationships are the soul of my stories and have the most fun when there is nothing “traditional” about them.

Describe your books in only three words.
Nontraditional. Adventure. Family.

What’s your next book about and when is it coming out?
The sixth (and penultimate) book in my Steel Empires series, Steel Justice, goes live on July 28. This murder mystery features a weredragon, robot dogs, codebreaking, and magic tattoos, starring two queer mercenary warrior-mages you probably should not hire for your private investigative needs.

Out of all your books, which one are you most proud of?
Steel Time (Steel Empires #4) is where I tackled time travel, one of my personal favorite fiction conceits. Which meant figuring out how it would work within the confines of the magic systems I’d already constructed for my world and dealing with a functionally immortal character running into her past self. This is also where I started to delve into mental health as a main theme in my writing and faced a lot of my own demons about living with anxiety in the process.

What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
The work of Ilona Andrews showed me that it’s possible to create multi-faceted fantasy worlds that focus on character and family dynamics as much as plot.

What inspired you to start writing?
I spontaneously invented fanfiction back in middle school after watching Highlander: The Series and falling in love with immortality and swords (two recurring tropes in my current fiction). Once I discovered this was already a thing on the internet, I knew I’d found my tribe and never looked back. I’m still in contact with some of those friends, almost 25 years later, who encouraged me to branch out into original world building and storytelling.

What’s your writing process like? Do you have a typical “writing day”?
I try to write about a thousand words a day at least 3 or 4 days a week, which I accomplish through 10 or 15 minute writing sprints. I generally intersperse those sprints with editing work, since I’m usually working on multiple projects at once, and catching up on book reviews. And all of that fits around work for the day job, since I work from home.

What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
The characters definitely came first when I wrote Steel Victory (Steel Empires #1), which was my thesis novel for my graduate degree in creative writing. Since then, I’ve had fun figuring out how those characters and their world would fit into different plots for the later books in the series — such as a coming of age story, a Shakespeare retelling, time travel shenanigans, and the latest, my murder mystery.

What’s a book that you wish you’d written?
The Old Guard, which is actually a movie and graphic novel, not a book. But contemporary action-adventure with a significant fantasy element, strong female characters, positive queer representation, and SWORDS? This story was basically scooped out directly out of my brain, and discovering it in 2020 was what got me through that clusterfuck of a year.

If you could only write one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Found family. Characters don’t exist in a vacuum, so I love surrounding them with loved ones who support and challenge them in equal measure. 

What would be your three desert island books?
Currently, Full Contact by Kelly Fox (enemies-to-lovers action adventure with a dash of crazy), Breathless by Cara Dee (kinky and poly and angsty with a dash of taboo), and Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey (the book that taught me I can combine fantasy world building with queer characters and set my own path as a writer).

If one of your books could be made into a movie/TV series, which would you choose and who would you cast?
Since I only have the one series (so far!), it makes sense to start with Steel Victory, which is where the main characters in the upcoming Steel Justice are first introduced. Warrior-mage partners Toria Connor and Kane Nalamas should be played by Lauren Cohen and Michael B. Jordan, respectively. (Find the rest of my fan cast ideas on my website at https://jlgribble.com/homepage/worldbuilding/fan-cast/)

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading, which I do voraciously (I’ve already hit 400 titles for 2021 according to Goodreads). The secret passion, however, is definitely LEGO. I like ships and buildings, primarily, so the guest room holds shelves with sets such as Hogwarts, the Saturn V, the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, lots of familiar Star Wars vehicles, Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, and a decent number of the Creator Expert builds. 

Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
Since the saber tooth tiger (kitty!) probably doesn’t count, I have to go cliché with the velociraptor. Pack animals with murder knives for hands!

By day, J. L. GRIBBLE is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. Her current work focuses on the urban fantasy/alternate history Steel Empires series, in which her debut novel, STEEL VICTORY, was her thesis novel for Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction graduate program in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Previously, she was one of the co-editors for FAR WORLDS, a speculative fiction anthology. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats.

 Find her online (www.jlgribble.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jlgribblewriter), and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits). You can also sign up for her newsletter. She is currently working on more tales set in the world of Limani.

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Summer Kisses is Live!

Want an angsty, dramatic and messy second chance romance between two stubborn chefs with a complicated history who have to learn to put their past to rest while falling in love all over again? 

If the answer is YES, then I have just the book for you in Summer Kisses.

This is a book I’ve wanted to write for such a long time, and it’s probably the angstiest book I’ve ever written. But it’s also filled with heart, heat, a rollercoaster of emotions and a very well deserved HEA!

And it’s available NOW on Kindle and KU!

Meet Aaron and Josh in this very snarky, steamy, second-chance, contemporary MM romance complete with late night cheese toasties, stupid bets over bowling dates, and a happily ever after that’s nine years in the making.

Two chefs. Two summers. One shot at a second chance. 

Aaron’s Plan
Then: 
1. Get a better job
2. Learn more skills
3. Get money for restaurant
4. Don’t fall in love with Josh

Now:
1. Finesse menu
2. Stop being angry at Josh
3. Swear less (Ben’s idea)
4. Stop wanting to kiss Josh
5. Get Michelin stars
6. Stop being in love with Josh

Josh’s Plan
Then:
1. Start new job
2. Try not to burn out
3. Don’t fall in love with Aaron
4. Seriously. Don’t. It will only end badly… 

Now:
1. Survive the summer
2. Get a new job?
3. Don’t get involved with Aaron again
4. Don’t think about kissing him
5. Don’t think about his smile
6. Don’t think about how much you still love him

Summer Kisses is a 78,000-word contemporary MM romance featuring two chefs with a complicated history, clashing egos, cheese toasties, and two summers that will change everything. It is part of the Kiss Me series and can be read as a standalone.

Content Warning: This novel contains mentions of drug use and issues of alcohol abuse.

Buy Now

“Charlie Novak has written an amazing read with complex characters who wrap themselves around the heart. There’s found family, snarky best friends, and yummy food – and lots of love and steamy times. It’s a must-read!”

BookBub Reviewer

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Author Spotlight: Pandora Pine

For today’s Author Spotlight, I’m delighted to be joined by International Bestseller Pandora Pine! We chatted found family, ideas coming first and her love of Stephen King’s It.

Over to you Pandora…

First things first, please introduce yourself!
Hi everyone!! I’m Pandora Pine! I write the Cold Case Psychic, Haunted Souls, and Protect and Serve books! Found family, strong relationships, and memorable characters are the hallmarks of my books.

Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
Each book has a life of its own. Some have fully formed outlines before I type one word. Others come to me chapter by chapter as I write.

Describe your books in only three words.
Fun! Found Family! Unforgettable!

What’s your next book about and when is it coming out?
Holt’s Hope is the fifth and final book in the Protect and Serve series. It publishes on Thursday July 8th. It follows McCoy foster brother Quentin Harding and cancer patient Holt Robertson. Lola is up to her usual hilarious antics and we get a peek at all the brothers ultimate happy endings in the epilogue!

Out of all your books, which one are you most proud of?
Dead Speak. Unbelievably, the Cold Case universe has grown to 41 (!!!!) books. Ten and Ronan are the reason I get to do this job that I love every single day. 

What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
I’ve always loved writing. From middle school I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life, but honestly never thought it was possible. I started writing fan fiction back in 2013 and had a friend who was going to give Amazon publishing a try in 2015 and urged me to do it too. At first, only friends and family were buying my books, but then, something magical happened with the Student Bodies books, the MM reading community discovered them and started reading them! My biggest writing influences have been Stephen King, Julie Garwood and Jude Devereaux. 

What inspired you to start writing?
The love of storytelling. I’ve always been a reader and I figured maybe other people would enjoy my stories as well. What inspired me to start self-publishing was a three hour daily commute and a boss that made my teeth ache! 

What’s your writing process like? Do you have a typical “writing day”?
I’m trying to be better with this. Honestly, sometimes I write in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, sometimes at night. When the words are flowing, I try to give them their way.

What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
Usually it’s the idea for a book. I’ll have a glimmer of an idea and then one of the MCs will pop in and introduce himself! For Cold Case Psychic, I wrote “Psychic and Cop series” on a blue sticky note one day at work and the next morning while driving to the grocery store, Ronan O’Mara introduced himself! 

What’s a book that you wish you’d written?
It by Stephen King! LOL! The storytelling is masterful. I read It for the first time back in 1987 and the characters and the fear of Pennywise have stuck with me ever since. Imagine writing a book that’s had a thirty year hold on people! 

If you could only write one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Found family for sure. Everyone should have a place to belong, where they feel valued and loved unconditionally. The romance and sex are great, but at the end of the day, its the relationships that make me the most proud of what I’ve written.

What would be your three desert island books?
Uncharted by Allison Temple
It by Stephen King
How to Survive on a Desert Island by some awesome survivalist! 

If one of your books could be made into a movie/TV series, which would you choose and who would you cast?
The Cold Case Psychic series would be my choice. I’d love to see Tennyson and Ronan brought to life on Netflix! My original inspiration for them is Kit Harington for Ten and Scott Eastwood for Ronan. A weekly instalment of these boys and their antics would be so much fun!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
In my spare time, I’m a photographer. I love shooting pictures of birds and other animals. I’m also a HUGE true crime fan.

Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
I’ve always been a big fan of the T Rex. They’re so big and ferocious. 

Sick of the slogging rat-race of her 9-5 job, PANDORA PINE put pen to paper (literally!) to make her ambition of becoming a romance novelist a reality. She cut her teeth in the dog-eat-dog world of fan fiction, still dreaming of the day when she would be a published author.

In her spare time, Pandora fancies herself an amateur nature photographer. She enjoys mucking around in swamps, hiking through the woods and crawling around on her hands and knees in her backyard seeking out the perfect shot. Pandora is a fan of roadside seafood shacks and always thinks Mexican food is a good idea at the time.

Some of Pandora’s favorite things are chocolate, writing longhand with purple pens, and handsome men falling in love with each other.

For more information on Pandora and her work you can sign up for her newsletter. You can also join her Facebook reader group, Pandora’s Box, for more news and updates.

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