Interview with debut author Tammy Bird

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Who or what inspired Sandman?

Sandman was inspired by a trip to the outer banks (OBX) in October. The majority of tourists were gone, and we had much of the beach and sound to ourselves. One afternoon, my wife and I stepped into one of the few local businesses that were still open: an ice cream shop. The owner was playing on his phone. I think we startled him when we entered. As we ate our ice cream cones (sprinkles for me, chocolate and peanut butter for my wife) we chatted with the owner about the end of tourist season and the quiet that settles over the sand.

He said, “Yep. Quiet enough around here in the off-season to bury a body in the dunes and never get caught.”

Just like that, Sandman was born.

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

As a kid, I worshipped my dad. He loved words. He often challenged me to look things up in the encyclopedias that were housed on my shelf in my room. Then we would talk about it over dinner. He would ask me questions like, “What do you think the children in Chile are having for dinner? Are they quiet or loud? What are their parents like?” We would build an entire story around their meal. I suspect this was the catalyst.

I also am a high school dropout who fell in love with a local community college instructor who used to come into my restaurant and ask me to read and discuss things to keep her company. At first it was weird, but I found myself looking forward to being challenged in that way. She eventually talked me into getting my GED and going back to school to earn an English degree. So, she took up the challenge where my dad left off, and I am forever thankful.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

This is a tough one. I am going to go with Paige. She trains cadaver dogs and gives them names like Derrida and Nietzsche. It is her and one of her “little nose artists,” as she calls them, that uncovers the secret burial ground of Buxton. If that isn’t cool enough, she is the character who tells the main character, Katia, like it is. No BS. Throughout the novel we witness a growing respect and friendship between the two women.

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

I am somewhere between a planner and a pantser. I like to have a rough outline of where a storyline is going, and I typically have the ending in mind when I start, but I also allow the characters to take me on a new journey if what I have planned doesn’t suit them. At the end of the process, I always compare what I intended to what happened. In the editing process I often have to rein a character or two in a little.

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

Everywhere. I am sure you hear this a lot from writers. I can be sitting in a meeting at my day job, and someone will say something in a particular way, and I think, “Oh man. That is the voice of a character.” Or, I will see a mom in a bookstore trying to read, and a small child crawling all over her. The mom keeps reading like the child isn’t even there. I think, “What if the child really wasn’t there? What is she is a child lost to another world who wants to be seen. What if whoever actually feels the child will be deemed the mother?” It goes on and on. LOL

Where is your favorite place to write?

A coffee shop. I don’t listen to music. I know, weird. I prefer words whistling by, settling on my table, rattling in the air. I don’t want to interact with them. I just want to know they are there. The people are just the vehicle for the words. It is this introverts way of being with others.

And there is coffee. Lots of coffee.



What is your writing process?

I have a calendar reminder set for everyday at the same time. When it reminds me, I treat it like any other meeting. Sometimes I write new words. Sometimes I edit words that are already there. Sometimes I journal new ideas or write character sketches. The idea is to treat writing like a job. To be successful, you have to show up. If my boss puts something over the time-slot, I honor that, of course, and sometimes a grandkid wants to play, and I honor that, too. Otherwise, I show up and I write.

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

I don’t know that it changed my process. I taught me a ton. That’s for sure. Writing the first draft of a book, writing “THE END,” for the first time, is an amazing experience. It is also where the real work begins. I had no idea the work that goes into editing, negotiations, marketing, readings, etc. Going into book two I am better equipped to know what works and what doesn’t. I know the word “had” is a word I overuse and I need to search for it in my document and revise. I know that adverbs are often a weak tool and that I use them too often in my first draft. Stuff like that.

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

Two things come to mind. (1) Money spent on other books. Stephen King said something to the effect of, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the tools to write.” I totally agree. Not only do I read, but I study books by the masters. (2) The GCLS writing academy. I’m not sure if you want to include plugs for awesome writing academies, but this one was phenomenal. It is a year-long program where new writers learn the trade from well-established writers in the lesbian community. I actually finished the first draft of Sandman in this program.

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

I am dedicated to inclusion in my writing. As such, when someone writes a review like the one below, I am blown away:

“One of my favorite things about the characters is how three-dimensional they are. Even fairly minor characters are so realistic and believable. The amount of detail used in descriptions of the Katia’s brother, who is on the autism spectrum, is incredible. It is clear that the author is either familiar with autistic children or did a great deal of research on the subject.”

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

I was a literature major in college, so I am in love with American literature. It influenced me as a whole. Words have to taste good on my tongue for me to turn the page. Reading and dissecting the works of greats, including, but not limited to, Burroughs, Faulkner, Perkins-Gilman, Morrison, Walker, Hawthorne, Hurston, and Frost taught me that there is always a message. Regardless of what I write, I want a well-crafted message.

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

I am nearing completion on my second novel, tentatively titled, “Book of Promises.” It is a coming out story with a twist. Best friends, Katie and Tess, held hands in fourth grade and promised one another that they would never be apart. Now in high school, one of them will stop at nothing to make sure this promise is kept.

I also have an outline for the sequel to Sandman. Stay tuned for more on that.

How do you take your coffee?

Sweet and light. Iced or hot.

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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.


Review of The Chosen One by T.B. Markinson

The Chosen One

I started reading The Chosen One by T.B. Markinson for a buddy read on Lesfic Readers and Writers Slack channel. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the book in time for the buddy read but once I finally got to it I couldn’t put it down.


Here is a short blurb about the book:

Girls are a risk college freshman Ainsley Carmichael can’t take. Her powerful political family sees her as the Chosen One who will someday be president. Upholding a carefully crafted veneer is second nature until the first day of class when Maya’s mysterious gray eyes hold her in thrall.


Ainsley may be out publicly regarding her sexual orientation, but she lives under the shadow of the Carmichael’s ancient but shrewd matriarch in this contemporary lesbian romance. The girls pair up for a history project, and it soon becomes clear Maya is hiding something when she cuts their first kiss short by pointing out they come from different worlds.


The privileged world of the Carmichael clan stands in stark contrast to Maya’s limited means. Ainsley’s sexually fluid, quirky, and carefree cousin helps her investigate, only to discover details of Maya’s past are sketchy at best as the suspense builds in this work of LGBT fiction.


Family scandal erupts, making the inevitable truth come out about Maya the Gray. Will Ainsley’s love for the enigmatic girl enable her to break her Carmichael shackles?
I wasn’t sure how I would like this book with everything political that is going on in the world today. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Ainsley’s story. I really liked the mystery surrounding the quotes Ainsley kept receiving. I was intrigued by her relationship with Suzy Q. It was heartbreaking finding out everything that Suzy Q has done to her in the past. It makes it easy to see why Ainsley has trouble letting people in. She doesn’t know who to trust because the people she has trust in the past have turned on her.


Maya’s story is what really sold me on this book. She was so intriguing I wanted to know what she had to hide. I was also really intrigued by how Maya’s past is connected to Ainsley’s family. It seemed like there would be much more to this part of the story. I’m hoping to read more about Maya in the second book in the series The Hidden One.


I would recommend this book to anyone who like new adult romances as well as political romances.


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


Review of Forbidden Melody by Magnolia Robbins

Forbidden Melody


Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I would like Forbidden Melody by Magnolia Robbins. I am not a huge fan of teacher-student relationships. I always found the power dynamic a little creepy. But this book made change my mind.


Here is a short blurb about the book:

Emma Harvey is a brilliant and gifted young pianist, accepted into one of the most prestigious music conservatories in the country and prepared to do whatever it takes to accomplish her dreams of playing professionally. With a renowned jazz musician for a father and a world-famous mentor growing up, she is convinced her path is easy. Until her world is suddenly silenced when she loses her hearing.


Juliet Hamilton is a prodigy violinist. First chair for nearly fifteen years in the New York Philharmonic and a professor at the conservatory, she is engulfed in her career with no time for distractions. Especially not a beautiful young graduate student with a spirited personality that challenges her every step.


When Emma and Juliet’s paths cross in the classroom, their connection is undeniable. When their music comes together, it is unstoppable. The bond they begin to form threatens to challenge more than just their opinions of music. Friendships, ethics, and careers are tested as Emma and Juliet find themselves lost in a concerto of fiery passion and heartbreak.


I enjoyed the book from the beginning. The opening scene pulled me in and made the mystery surrounding the women appealing. Juliet was a bit of a trip at the beginning of the book. She was very unlikable. She was full of herself and thought that she could do no wrong. It really turned me off.  But all of that changed when she met Emma she brought the good out of her. It also allowed the reader to see the more sensitive side of her that she hid from the world. Juliet’s relationship with Kira was touching.


Emma was my favorite character. I loved her view on life. Even though she was handed a shitty hand she made the best of it. Her loss of hearing never slowed her down she was still able to achieve all of her music-related dreams. She also was able to share her love of music with Kira who was also deaf.


The woman’s struggle to be together was very interesting. Between the struggles with the teacher-student relationship, there was also family drama. Juliet’s father was a piece of work. It seemed like he would do anything to ruin any chance of happiness for Juliet. I don’t know if it was because of her being gay or just because he liked to be in control.


The sex scenes in this book were amazingly done. The chemistry between Emma and Juliet was hot. I would consider it to be a slow burn.


My one fault with this book was the editing. Towards the end of the book, the editing quality seemed to slip. Normally something like this wouldn’t bother me but it happened on quite a few occasions.


I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a slow burn romance. Or anyone who loves forbidden love romances.


Forbidden Melody  is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Review of There’s A Possibility by Lou J Bard

There's A Possibility

I’m a sucker for friends to lovers romance novels. There is just something so sweet about two women who are already best friends realizing how much they truly love each other. There’s A Possibility by debut author Lou J Bard shines.


Here is a short blurb about the book:

My name is Diana Sheridan and I think you’re my soulmate!”

Diana Sheridan has been in love with Penelope Bennett since the fateful day that they met in their grade school library. The only problem?

Penelope is straight.

Penelope Bennett has been picking up the pieces of Diana’s failed and flawed flings since high school and wants for her best friend to find happiness; but is certain that it is not with her.

A two-month long overseas work excursion puts twenty-four years of friendship to the test when Diana returns home with more than just a new cultural experience and Penelope must decide once and for all if there’s a possibility for more between them.


I really liked the relationship between Diana and Penelope. They pushed each other’s buttons in a playful and silly manner. The way that only best friends can. From the very beginning, you could see how much Diana loved and cared for Penelope. The opening scene was my favorite it truly showed Diana’s character. Penelope was my favorite character I loved how instead of saying God she would call out the names of other Gods such as Athena.


I thought overall the book was well written. The sex scenes in this book are super steamy be prepared to blush in public. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this novel and look forward to reading more from them in the future.


I would recommend this book to anyone who loves friends to lovers romances.


There’s A Possibility  is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Review of To Boldly Go by Em Stevens

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I read To Boldly Go by Em Stevens for the Lesfic Book Club hosted on the Lesfic Readers and Writers Slack group. I really had no idea what I was getting into with this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. It made for a great summer read.


Here is a short blurb about the book:

Taryn’s trip of a lifetime is finally happening. She’s saved money, researched, planned, and created an itinerary that will allow her to travel Italy…and finally tell her best friend that she’s in love with her. But those plans are ruined when she wakes up alone, her crush gone. Her plans did not include being alone and stranded in Milan.


Now Taryn’s dream vacation is a nightmare.


Enter Holly, a fellow traveler: young, full of life, and comfortable traipsing off the beaten path. Holly feels a connection with Taryn and wants to salvage her trip. After all, they’re in freaking Italy! But their radically different travel styles and age differences make for rough terrain.


Together, they boldly go into unexplored territories of the heart, and may just discover love.


The book took me a little while to get into. I found Taryn to be a little annoying in the beginning. But she really grew on me as the book progressed. I liked that she kept her type A personality but was willing to accommodate the needs of others. Holly was my favorite character. I liked how she was willing to roll with the punches. She also accepted Taryn just like she was and accommodated her needs the best way she could. I was a little shocked by Holly’s backstory. It wasn’t what I was expecting but I feel like it really added to her character.


My favorite part of the book was the descriptions of Italy. It made it feel like you were there with the characters. The talk about food in this book made me hungry the whole time I was reading it. I also enjoyed all of the Star Trek references splatted throughout the book.


I would recommend this book to anyone that likes destination romances.


To Boldly Go is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Interview with Hildred Billings


Who or what inspired your latest novel Not for Sale?


I honestly don’t remember. I think I was contemplating the fact that my apartment complex was now on their third manager in as many years and, wondered what it was like being a property manager. Everything kind of built from there. All I know is that Kimberly was always Korean-American from the beginning, and that I wanted to set it in a small, middle-class condominium complex on the Oregon coast.


Who or what inspired you to start writing?


I’ve been writing since I was old enough to mimic words out of picture books. So, it’s hard to say where the urge to write began. One of my earliest memories is writing and making up stories about my grandmother as a teenager. I was about four years old. I was also encouraged to write stories in first grade. I think I wrote a picture book about a turtle. It was always a constant presence in my life – I wrote my first full-length novel, complete with three acts and character developments, when I was in fifth grade. (Of course, it’s not terribly good, and no, nobody is allowed to see it!)


Which of your books was your favorite to write and why?


I’ve had a couple books I would describe as “fever dreams.” The ones where I sat down and day in, day out wrote about five to ten thousand words a day until the behemoths were complete. Where my brain refused to let me work on anything else until this thing was finished. Under Hildred, that book is definitely “Love, Yumi.” Being written in first person definitely helps. It’s a lot more stream of conscious that way.


Who is your favorite character from your books and why?


I think out of my lesbian romances, the character I get most excited about is Eva Warren. If she’s appearing somewhere, you know some trouble is about to begin. It tends to follow her like the scent of her made-to-order French perfume. And we authors LOVE troublemaking characters!


How do you approach writing a new storyline?


I consider what kind of tropes it will have, who the characters are, and what is the main thing keeping them apart. (Assuming we are talking about romance here.) As a publisher, I also consider the marketability. I schedule the books I write and their release dates to ensure that at least every other book is one I can market to an awaiting audience.


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


The easy answer is “well, some of them are spin-offs of books I’ve written before, where I followed a side character and realized they would make an amazing lead character for their own novel!” The harder, more boring answer is, “literally whenever my brain thinks it’s a good time to deliver a new story.” I could be watching a commercial, have a random thought about something the voiceover said, and ten minutes later I have the next novel I’m going to write ready to go. I think I naturally create stories out of mundane things.


Where is your favorite place to write?


The well-lit room of my favorite teashop in Portland. I’ve written thousands of words there over the years, and I’m still not sure the baristas know what the hell I’m doing in that corner.


What is your writing process?


Sit down, shut up, and write until it’s finished for the day. Then I get to play video games!


(I’m afraid there is nothing interesting or glamorous about my writing life. It simply exists like a typical office job. I even dress like I’m going to the office.)


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


I don’t think anything changed, especially for the first book. I had already written a ton of books before I published my first one (a lot of real duds, let me tell you.) But the main thing that’s changed over the years is becoming more familiar with the world of “what readers want” and trying to deliver. Having to set aside my own tastes and sometimes, even what might make the book “better” in an artistic sense… well, I’ve never put out a book I wasn’t happy with. But there are some that I would have ended differently or made a character more realistically unpleasant (like I imagined them,) or set somewhere else if the fact I need to make a living wasn’t an issue. It’s what happens when you do art for a living. You just find a way to make it work with your creative vision.


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


Bookbub, c. 2015 I’ll be paying the taxes on it for years!



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


I have a defunct (she’s dead, y’all) lesbian erotica pen name that used to get some straaaange fanmail back in the day. But I think the sweetest one, which I think about a lot, came from a man who said he and his wife really loved my work and they used to read it to each other before they went to sleep. Sometimes, I feel like I failed them when that pen name died… but let’s be real, they either split up or moved on!


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


I don’t know what one book overall has. But this year I have been really influenced by Keven Kwan. Not just him setting the bar on how over the top I can make my rich-asshole characters, but his omniscient style of writing helped me out of a huge bind when I was writing my fantasy novel and trying to figure out how to make the point of view work. Thanks, Kevin, or showing me I could get away with it!


How do you take your coffee?


I don’t.