Interview with Magnolia Robbins

Maggie

Who or what inspired Starbound?

My best friend Amanda. After I released Forbidden Melody last year, I kind of had a bit of a frustrating breakdown. It was a lot of work, it took a lot out of me mentally, and I wasn’t sure what to do next. In October, Amanda suggested I write a “nerd book” as she so lovingly put it. This book is really based a lot on our friendship, and is kind of an ode to her. A lot of our inside jokes are in the book, little things that have happened to us. She likes to call me a “nerd” because of all of my hobbies and interests (they’re pretty nerdy, I mean I love playing Dungeons and Dragons, I’m not going to lie…) So, really this book was for her. I went through a lot last year, and finishing this book meant a lot. I’m just happy it’s out there for people to read now.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

In 4thgrade, I wrote a book called “Freddie the Falcon” that got published by my school. I drew the pictures that went with it, and wrote the story. I’ve always had a passion for storytelling ever since I was little. It wasn’t until early college I started really picking it up. I have a mostly-finished draft of a science fiction story that I want to publish at some point as queer fiction. In 2017, my mother-in-law was dying of ovarian cancer and we had a talk in the hospital one day. I’d just quit graduate school after discovering it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I was pretty depressed, for a variety of reasons. She asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and then told me I should write, because she believed so much in my writing. The day after she passed away, I self-published my first book on Amazon.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

Wow! This is a doozy! Haha. Hm, I think if I’d have to pick my favorite, it would have to be Shiloh Pierce from Wildsky. The character was kind of based off of a variety of different people and kind of all melded together. I loved her rugged outdoorsy personality, how passionately she loved Grace, and how dedicated she was to helping her through her mental health struggles. My significant other and I went through a very similar experience when I was going through graduate school as Grace/Shiloh did, so she really mattered a lot to me.

 

I also would have to say Reese, just because I based her a lot off of Amanda, and I love Amanda to pieces.

 

And, I can’t go without saying Juliette Hamilton from Forbidden Melody, because… well, obviously.

 

I totally didn’t give you one person—sorry about that haha.

 

 

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

This is a good question! It’s a very crazy process, sometimes there’s no semblance of order. An idea will come to me and it will start brewing and festering in my head. I try to make an outline. Most of the time I don’t get through it all the way, but I’m happy to say I’m getting better about it. I will try to build as good of an image of characters in my head before I start, so I can picture what might happen to them. Then I throw out a bunch of scene ideas, just as many as I can think of. Once that happens, I try to puzzle piece them together to figure out a good plot.

 

Really though, it’s kind of a magical experience. Somehow things just start coming together once I start going. Definitely not a pantser though, as much as I envy them.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

As I mentioned in a previous question, I get a lot of inspiration from people in my life. Sometimes characters from other books will inspire ideas for me. Like I said, my significant other, Amanda, some of my lesfic friends have all inspired me. My parents, other friends. For Forbidden Melody, Emma was inspired by an America’s Got Talentcontestant named Mandy Harvey, who had the same disorder that Emma did in the book. I get my inspiration from random places.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

Okay. I have two places. It’s hard to choose.

First, is the Salt Lake City Library. Look how gorgeous this place is! It’s 4 stories, they have really nice desks to work at that face the mountains and you can look out at them while you write. There’s windows EVERYWHERE. And a coffee shop inside, so I can get all the coffee I want! The barista’s there love me haha.

Picture1

Second, is my home office. I like it a lot because I pimped it out a little this year and got nice big framed photos of my book covers. I also have a giant sloth from Amanda that keeps me company.

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What is your writing process?

I have a daily routine, which usually consists of getting up about 5:30-6am in the morning, even on the weekends. I make a big pot of coffee, take a walk for about 10 minutes, stretch, meditate most days that I can remember to do it, and then I sit down at the computer with my coffee and make a deal with myself—I need to write x amount today and then I can do something I want to do with my life. My goal is usually 2,500 words.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I don’t think my first book was what really changed my writing process. I’ve written 11 books now, 5 novels and 6 novella. I started out writing novellas because I was nervous publishing novels. It was really good practice. I got a review on one of my novellas after I’d been publishing a while saying that they felt like the story could be fleshed out more and have more detail. After that, I decided to write my first official novel. I tried really hard to pay attention and add more details, and work on my craftsmanship. Every book since has been really focusing on one area I can improve each book. It helps a lot. I really thank that reviewer for calling me out, because I might have still been stuck in novella writing mode and not gotten the courage to try something new, if it wasn’t for them.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Hiring a copy editor. 100%

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

The reviews for Wildsky and for Forbidden Melody just exploded my heart. I think the best review/thing I heard was from someone who read Wildsky, who was going through the same experience with graduate school as I did. They said because of the book, and then talking with me after they’d read it, they got the courage to call it quits. I wrote that book specifically for those people who are struggling, because I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. And that was a really cool moment to be able to support someone else going through the same thing.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

“Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown. If you haven’t ever read that book, you should read it.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

So, I just released Starbound a few days ago, which is a geeky friends-to-lovers romance about a science-fiction television star and a game store manager (who are BFFs) who fall in love. It’s definitely a very cute and light read, a lot different that Forbidden Melody. I hope my readers won’t be too disappointed that it’s a lot different, but I still think it’s a really cute read!
Early February I’ll be releasing the first novella of a 3 part series called “Essence” that is about a baker and an accountant that have a nice falling-for-each-other kind of story. It’s light and sweet like Starbound, but it’s some of my best writing, in my opinion. All three of the books take place in Vermont, which I had the pleasure of visiting last year. It’s a beautiful state that is underrepresented in literature. The series will be the “Green Mountain Novellas” and they’ll release in February, April, and June (tentatively).

 

How do you take your coffee?

Black or with a little cream! And about 20 cups. Ha!

Review of Starbound by Magnolia Robbins

Startbound

As most of my readers know I am a huge nerd. I love everything from board game to video games even D&D. When I saw Starbound by Magnolia Robbins on Kindle Unlimited I had to pick it. Lucy sounded like my nerdy dream woman and I was not disappointed.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

World renowned sci-fi television star Reese Simmons looks like she has it all – fame, wealth, a slew of beautiful women who follow her every move. Except Reese’s life is crumbling around her. She hates her job and is constantly accused of being a “reckless party animal.” Reese’s agent decides the one surefire way to get her image back on track. She has to date the worst person in the entire universe, her co-star Justine Turner.

 

Her solution: she needs a fake girlfriend. And fast.

 

Enter Lucy, the BFF. Game store manager, board game geek, the world’s most AMAZING cosplayer, and Reese’s best friend practically since birth. When Lucy finds out Reese’s predicament, there seems like only one solution: pose as fake girlfriends. And Lucy is more than willing to play the part. She’d do anything for Reese – even if it means entirely too romantic tales about their relationship, hearing she’s “incredibly beautiful”, and expert kisses in public.

 

The problem: Reese and Lucy have been in love with each other all their lives—and they’re both completely clueless.

 

This book features two best friends, roleplaying games, and countless ‘fake’ kisses and begs the question:

 

Who wants a real girlfriend when faking is so much fun?

 

Starbound hooked me from the very beginning.  I loved how Reese and Lucy worked together to protect Reese from being forced to date her evil co-worker, Justine, for publicity. I have never really read a fake romance book before, but I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. Seeing how their relationship developed before they even really knew what was happening.

 

Lucy is my favorite character. She is so kind hearted and true to herself. She was even kind enough to try to comfort Justine before she snapped at her. The D&D games with Lucy’s friends is one of my favorite parts of the book. She paired perfectly with Reese whose character is a bit of a lovable mess. Reese can’t seem to get out of her own way. She constantly needs Lucy to help her fix what she has messed up.

 

As always Magnolia Robbins writes amazingly steamy sex scenes that will leave you squirming in your seat.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes friends to lover’s romances, fake romances, and nerdy romances. Hell, I would recommend this book to everyone.

 

Starbound is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Interview with T.B Markinson

t b markinson

Who or what inspired The Hidden One?

 Many who have read my A Woman Lost series know I’m a history nerd. I’m also an American political news junkie. I listen to way too many political podcasts, just like Ainsley in The Hidden One, hardly ever miss The Rachel Maddow Show, subscribe to several newspapers in the US and UK, in addition to reading articles on Politico, Axios, and others including right-leaning sites in a woeful attempt to stay impartial. The Chosen One series allows me to bring out the political animal inside me without actually having to run for office. Because that would be my definition of hell.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing? 

Two reasons immediately pop into my mind.

First: My love of reading.

When I was a kid, I spent many blissful hours reading in my favorite rocking chair. This passion never vanished. Unfortunately, the rocking chair did. That hasn’t stopped me. I read everywhere. If you were at the post office today and saw a woman reading in line, that may have been me. I always have a book with me. If I don’t, I feel naked and incomplete. By the way, if you know where my rocking chair is, please let me know. I miss my old friend.

Second: Being diagnosed with Graves’ Disease may have been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. If it wasn’t for that, I may still be a person who has dreams but doesn’t chase them.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

 Oh gosh, this is a hard one. I’m quite fond of so many, even the ones who are a complete pain in the arse. If I had to choose one right now, I’d say Fiona Carmichael. She’s a supporting character in The Chosen One series and she’s a riot. Always saying what she thinks and the woman doesn’t have a filter at all. If you asked me this question again tomorrow, my answer would probably be different.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

 Before I start a novel, the idea has to sit with me for weeks. I spend a lot of time going for walks, letting ideas percolate. I’ll jot down notes, but I won’t actually write until I feel confident I can finish it. When I finally start, I have a decent idea where the story will go. But then, the characters hijack it and even I’m surprised by what happens.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

From everywhere. There have been countless times I’ve been in a store, restaurant, or park and I see interactions with people and my brain immediately starts to concoct a backstory to what I’m hearing or witnessing.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

 I write in my “office” in my flat. There’s nothing fancy about it. Just a desk, chair, and laptop. I’m easily distracted. Sometimes I listen to music. Other times I need absolute quiet.

 

What is your writing process?

 I write full time, so it’s not so much a process, but a job. Every day when I wake, I know that’s what I’ll be doing until quitting time. I’m a slow starter, though. I can’t wake up and jump right into writing like many authors. I have to make a cup of tea and clear some admin tasks off my plate, or I can’t concentrate on the story I’m working on.

 

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

 I think each published book has impacted my process. I’m always finetuning my approach. Like any job, it can become repetitive and I have to find new ways to tap into the creative process. Sometimes, I just have to give myself a stern lecture that can be summarized this way: sit your arse in the chair and write.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

 On books. In my humble opinion, if someone doesn’t love to read, they shouldn’t write. I read just about everything, ranging from nonfiction to fiction. Usually, I have three books going at once, plus an audiobook for when I exercise.

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

 I’ve been receiving quite a few emails lately from people thanking me for helping them through difficult times. It’s nice to know my stories help readers disappear from harsh realities and give them some escapism. Life can be so very hard.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

 Back when I was a kid I had the flu and was home for school for several days. I was so bored and I started to read The Hobbit and fell in love with reading. It was the first book that wasn’t a picture book that I remember reading on my own and it introduced me to the wonderful world of storytelling. Over the years, I’ve reread The Hobbit and every time I can recapture that magical moment.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

 A Woman Undone, the sixth book in theA Woman Lost series, will be out soon (fingers crossed). The previous book, A Woman Loved, ended with quite a cliffhanger. Lizzie has a unique family (read crazy), and while she’s doing her best to live a happy life with her wife and twins, her family causes so many problems. And the clueless Lizzie does her best to navigate the issues in Lizzie style, which means she makes many comical blunders.

 

How do you take your coffee?

 I actually hate coffee, but drink way too much tea. My preferences change frequently. Lately I’ve been drinking it with honey.

 

Links and bio:

Readers can find me at I Heart Lesfic, on Twitter, and on my author website. And, if they want a free copy of A Woman Lostplus bonus scenes, they can sign up for my author newsletter here.

 

T.B. Markinson

T.B. Markinson is an American writer, living in England. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs, or reading. Not necessarily in that order.

Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. For a full listing of TB’s novels, please visit her Amazon page.

Review of The Hidden One by T.B. Markinson

the hidden one

I was really excited to start The Hidden One by T.B. Markinson. It is the second book in The Chosen One series, and I would recommend reading the first book to fully understand what is happening. The book follows the life of Ainsley during her senior year of college as her class does a mock election.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Mock election. Real world danger. Ainsley’s relationship and reputation may not survive the campaign trail.

 

Still reeling from the targeted attack on her family, Ainsley is determined to keep a low profile during senior year. But a mandatory class project pulls her back into the political fray as the mock Democratic presidential candidate. With the entire campus watching, Ainsley knows it’s only a matter of time before her rival turns the spotlight on her and her secretive girlfriend.

 

Groomed from birth by her politically connected family, Ainsley knows she can handle the abuse. But shielding her girlfriend’s secrets is a matter of life or death. To protect the ones she loves, Ainsley will need to use every shrewd political move in the book.

 

The Hidden One is the captivating second book in a series of lesbian romantic suspense novels that shed light on modern American politics. If you like romance that defies the odds, a satirical take on current events, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love T.B. Markinson’s compelling tale.

 

I really enjoyed the second installment to The Chosen One series. The first book left off at the end of Ainsley’s Freshman year of college and The Hidden One picks up at the beginning of Ainsley’s Senior year and her final project the mock election. I really enjoy the political aspect of this book. I feel like it plays a much bigger role than the first. Suzy is back to her evil ways trying to ruin Ainsley’s live any way she can, and the mock election opens up the ways that Suzy tries to sabotage Ainsley political ambitions.

 

Maya and Ainsley have been dating for three years. Their relationship is much steamier than the first book. You’re going to need a fan to cool down from their sex scenes.

 

All of my favorite characters from the first book have come back including Grover who makes a special appearance in Ainsley’s Presidential campaign. Maya’s backstory is even further explained, and it is mind-blowing.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves political romances and new adult romances.

 

The Hidden One  is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

 

 

 

Interview with author Kate Genet

kate genet

Who or what inspired Saving Rose?

I read a lot of crime novels, and I’ve always loved writing suspense, so one day I had the brilliant idea of putting those things together and writing one. It was a great deal of fun, and I expect I’ll do it again. But it really did come about simply because I decided I wanted to write a crime novel. Once I did that, my imagination came up with Claire and Rose. Valerie (my partner) and I had a great time talking about the story all through the writing process, and Claire is a sailor thanks exclusively to Valerie’s extensive experience with yachts. I love writing children, and am very protective of them, so it all just came together nicely.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t want to write. At the age of nine or ten, I was stitching together tiny books out of paper, just the way the Bronte sisters did, and waking up early in the morning to write poems in them. That habit didn’t last long, but the desire to write has never gone away. Kate and writer are synonymous, these days.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

This is an awfully tough question, considering I have a whole bunch of books I’ve written now. Every character is a favourite while I’m writing them, because I strive to make them feel as real as possible, and I tend to fall in love with all my main characters.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

I’m ready to write when I can see the first scene in my head, and when I know what sort of feeling or atmosphere I want the book to have. I don’t outline at all; I simply start at chapter one and see where the story takes me, right up until the end. I don’t even know how to write any other way than that!

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

Everything is inspiration. I think when you’re a writer, every experience, everything you see, feel and do, falls through into the well of inspiration and then becomes part of a story, even if it’s one you never end up telling. I do most of my character invention during the actual writing, so they tend to grow very organically, and I meet them and get to know them at the same time I am writing them.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

I’m a big fan of routine. It makes my days look very dull, but I have a space – a room – set aside to write in, and that’s where I go to write. Usually at the same time every day, for the same length of time. The discipline and routine help my brain make the switch to that flow state where language and structure and story and inspiration come together on the page. I’m not a coffee shop writer, or anything of the sort – I prefer to sit on my own when I’m working.

 

What is your writing process?

It’s very dull, from the outside, at least! While it varies slightly from book to book, it pretty much always starts simply with the picture in my head of someone doing something. And I write that picture down and follow where it leads me. I start at the beginning, at chapter one, and I write until the story is done. Valerie (my partner) reads along while I write, and we will talk about the story and she usually does whatever research I need. When I’ve reached the end, I read through it, making sure it all works, and then it gets proofed.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

It made me realize that finishing writing projects is a great idea!

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

My whole writing career has been run on a shoestring budget. There just hasn’t been the money for anything, so of the few things I’ve spent money on, I’d probably say my very recent purchase of Vellum, which is a miracle programme which will finally allow me to bring my books out in paper.

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

I think it is always gratifying to get feedback from readers letting you know that they’ve enjoyed your work. It’s a difficult thing to work for a couple months on a story – something that didn’t exist at all until the writer made it up (literally!) – and then put it out in public for scrutiny, and enjoyment or otherwise. Which also makes it one of the most amazing, humbling things when someone says it made them feel all the things you were hoping it would when you wrote it.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

I don’t think there’s been just one book. Instead there have been many. I’m a great fan of the modernists – E M Forster, D H Lawrence, Virginia Woolfe, Katherine Mansfield, and too many others to mention. Then to those, add a great dollop of Stephen King. An odd mix, perhaps, but then, I’ve never been particularly conventional.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

I have a few planned for this year. Two historical romances under the name Lily Hammond, two contemporary romances as Ana McKenzie, and after that I should be able to fit another two in, if life leaves me enough space. I’ll play with those ones and see what I come up with – most likely some sort of suspense novel like Saving Rose. I like not knowing yet!

 

How do you take your coffee?

With coconut milk and no sugar. If I’m out, I’ll have a cappuccino, again with no sugar.

Review of Saving Rose by Kate Genet

saving rose

As most of you know I’m a huge fan of thrillers and mysteries. There is nothing quite like being on the edge of your seat waiting to know what twists and turns are in store for the hero. Saving Rose by Kate Genet did not disappoint it had me hooked from the very first page.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Driven, professional sailor Claire Wilde is home on a flying visit to see friends and family. She’s especially looking forward to catching up with best friend Zoe, and meeting Zoe’s daughter, Rose.

 

But Christchurch is a city on shaky ground, and when it is hit by a big earthquake, secrets are suddenly exposed that Claire and Zoe had never even guessed at. In seconds, everything is changed.

 

Drawn into a terrible game of cat and mouse with a paedophile and killer she never suspected, Claire finds herself chasing a man who won’t stop until he gets what he wants — three-year-old Rose. Tested even to her considerable limits, Claire is about to discover exactly how far she is willing to go to protect another woman’s child.

 

Saving Grace is not the typical book I review on this site, it has no romantic element. Personally, I thought that made this book even better because they didn’t try to force a romance where it wasn’t needed. This book was told from many points of view. Which I thought made this book all the more interesting. I particularly liked reading from the mind of Danny, the villain. It really added suspense to the story knowing what his plans were and what the heroes Claire and Mona would need to overcome to save Rose.

 

As everyone knows who regularly reads the blog, I love the addition of pets in a story. This book had an amazingly protective German Shepard that Rose named Pilot. Pilot got lost during the earthquake the rocked the city he was found by Rose. He becomes Rose’s companion and tries to protect her from her father. Between Claire and Pilot, Danny had his hands full in his evil attempts to take his daughter. Saving Rose is a wild ride.

 

I would recommend Saving Rose to anyone who loves thrillers.

 

Saving Rose is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

 

 

Review of The Sound of Silence by Lou J. Bard

the sound of scilence

I was intrigued by the blurb for The Sound of Silence by Lou J. Bard. Reading the first few pages sucked me in.  I couldn’t put it down until I found out the mystery of the beautiful Alice Jameson’s horrific past and what caused her to become mute. While I would not consider this book a true mystery there are mystery elements incorporated in this happily ever after romance novel.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Indiana Reynolds is the newest Intern Social Worker at Plantation House for the Disabled. Among her charges is the young and elusive Alice Jameson.

Alice Jameson has been silent for the last fifteen years of her life and doesn’t have any plans to open up about her past or her traumatic life anytime soon, especially not to someone as beautiful and perfect as Indiana Reynolds who manages to get the shy Alice to start experiencing what life could be like outside of the sound of silence.

 

I have a bit of a trigger warning for this book. If power dynamics make you uncomfortable this book might not be for you. Indianan works as a social worker in the mental hospital that Alice lives at. While I personally don’t think she crosses the line I could see how someone else could view their relationship as crossing the line. That being said I really enjoyed this book. I liked the mystery surrounding Alice’s past. It really kept me turning pages in the beginning. I also liked Alice’s road to recovery and how her relationship with Indiana gave her the push she needed to help herself get better.

 

Indiana wanted what was best for Alice throughout the book. She even learned American Sign Language in order to communicate with her. Indiana never crossed the line in her interactions with Alice. When the line was finally crossed, she took the blame even though Alice was the one crossed the line. She was willing to risk her career to protect Alice.

 

The second part of the book when the women visit Cave Creek, Arizona is my absolute favorite. But I might be a little biased on that because it is where I live. It is nice to see the desert beauty of Arizona appreciated a book. The author was pretty accurate in their descriptions of the area.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a happily ever after. Also, to anyone who likes mystery elements in their books.

 

The Sound of Silence is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.