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.

 

 

Interview with Miranda Macleod

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Who or what inspired Holme for the Holidays?

There were two things that inspired this book. One was a trip I took through the real village of Holme in Yorkshire, and the other was the movie “The Holiday” with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. This story is nothing like the movie, but I loved the idea of a house swap that leads to romance.

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, ever since I was a kid. I used to make up plays during recess and make my friends take roles in them. But it was as my 40thbirthday was approaching a few years back that I realized that if I didn’t do something to turn “I want to write a book someday” into an actual book soon, I never would.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

My very favorite character is Amanda, the office temp turned international spy, from Stockholm Syndrome. I think I like her because she reminds me of all the years I spent as an office temp while I was in graduate school. Often, when you’re in that type of setting, you don’t really know anyone and you can feel a little invisible and underappreciated, so it’s a great environment for letting your imagination run wild. Amanda daydreams about being a spy, only unlike most of us, she gets the chance one night to make her dream come true!

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

I write down ideas whenever they come to me, often along the lines of “wouldn’t it be funny if…” Most of the time, the initial thing that draws me to a story is something funny, like a celebrity chef on a gluten-free diet who gets stuck in a tiny Italian village where the only things to do are eat pasta and flirt with the local chocolate maker. After the initial idea, I always write an outline, even if some of the scenes are a little vague at first. I have to have a plan before I can write, even if sometimes I change the plan halfway through.

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

Sometimes I base my characters and their occupations either on things I know myself, or on people I have encountered. For example, my Love’s Encoretrilogy is set in the theater, where I worked for several years. Other times, I ask myself what type of extraordinary life an ordinary person might like to drop in on for a few hours—perhaps a celebrity singer or spy. But it’s important to me that even the characters with the most unusual and exciting occupations need to be real and relatable.

Where is your favorite place to write?

During the warmer weather, I have a desk on my three-season porch, but when the New England winter gets too cold, there’s a local coffee shop I like, and the library is also a good choice. I find it helpful to get away from home, where there’s always a load of laundry to distract me from writing.

What is your writing process?

Ideally, I spend a week or so creating an outline and then launch into my first draft, which usually takes a few months. When that’s done I get editorial input, revise, and send for final editing and proofreading.

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

Getting through the whole process, from idea to final product, for the first time helped me to start building a series of steps that I refine with each new work. I found, for example, that I tend to get tired in the middle of the book, where it seems like the end will never arrive, and so it can help me to send it at that stage to a beta reader to get some feedback. Even if all the reader says is “Finish this so I can read the rest,” it helps to rekindle my energy to push through to the end.

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

For me, it was buying a Mac and loading it up with the Scrivener and Vellum programs. That gives me everything I need to go from outline to published e-book and paperback.

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

The comments that stick with me the most are when a reader reaches out to say that my story gave them hope in a dark time. My books are romantic comedies on the surface, but I try to deal with the emotions and challenges that real people face, and intfuse them with hope and humor. When I know that’s brightened someone’s day and made something difficult easier, that’s the best feeling in the world.

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

In 4thgrade, my friend Jenny gave me a copy of Emily of New Moonby L.M. Montgomery. That series is not as well-known as her Anne of Green Gables series, but it’s all about a little girl who dreams of being a writer, and who has great adventures along the way to achieving her dream, with a lot of embarrassing challenges thrown in for good measure. Even as an adult, I still go back and read it sometimes, and love it every time.

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

Yes! 2018 proved to be a difficult year for writing because of various things that came up in my family and personal life, but I’m pleased to say that I will be publishing London Holiday, the 5thbook in the Americans Abroad series, this coming spring. It’s a modern retelling of the 1950s classic Roman Holiday, which is probably my favorite movie of all time. In my version, a struggling journalist meets a runaway princess in London and has to choose between the tabloid story of a lifetime, or the possibility that she’s found true love.

How do you take your coffee?

Whole milk, and no flavored creamers or heaven forbid, anything sweet in it.

 

Review of Holme for the Holidays by Miranda MacLeod

Holme for the Holidays

I recently read Holme for the Holidays by Miranda Macleod for the monthly book club on the Lesfic Readers and Writers Slack channel. I really like the thought of reading a Christmas themed book to get in the mood for the holidays. This book was just the thing to kickstart my holiday spirit.

Here is a short blurb about the book:

An American musician with a broken heart meets a local farmer with a hidden past on a holiday house swap in Yorkshire. A charming romantic comedy that will fill your heart with holiday cheer

A country cottage is the last place Paige expected to spend the holidays, but a year after her girlfriend dumped her, her life is in shambles. A last minute house swap sends her from California to Yorkshire to put her life back on track. She doesn’t believe in forever anymore, but when she meets a raven haired beauty in the local pub, she seizes the chance for a night of fun.

On the brink of fame and fortune, Fiona suffered an unthinkable loss, and a year later she’s given up on singing, and just about everything else. When the brother she relies on too much skips town “for her own good” and loans his cottage to a stranger for the holidays, her life is turned upside down. She knows she can’t make a new relationship work, but when she meets a purple haired American at the local pub, she figures it wouldn’t hurt to blow off some steam.

They never meant to see each other again, yet from the very first morning when the vicar comes to call and Paige gets mowed down by a runaway llama, they just can’t seem to escape their lives becoming increasingly, and hilariously, entwined. And when a series of calamities threatens Christmas in Holme village, the two must work together to save the day, and maybe find true love along the way.

A year ago, their lives fell apart. Can a bit of Christmas magic help them build a new life together?

Holme for the Holidays is the second book in the American’s Abroad series and functions as a standalone. I really enjoyed this book. Paige and Fiona make a really cute couple. While the book happens in a short span of time it doesn’t feel insta lovey. They really get to know each other over the short amount of time that they are together. Fiona’s backstory is really heartbreaking. I don’t know how if I would be able to handle losing someone I loved in the way that Fiona had.

The setting is one of the best parts of this book. There is something magical about Holme. The way the people in the town jumped in to help out when needed. Also, the thought of a white Yorkshire Christmas was so sweet.

The humor really makes this book stand out. The scene with the Vicar was one of the funniest things I have ever read. I also liked the addition of Dolly, the llama, and Maxine, the dog. The animals really brought life to this story.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes romantic comedies.

Holme for the Holidays  is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Interview with author M.J. Duncan

Who or what inspired your latest novel Heist?

 

A tumblr post, actually. There was an article in Smithsonian Magazineabout a wealthy collector known as “The Astronomer” who hired thieves to break into a London warehouse to steal rare books for them. My Muse took that idea and added, “Let’s add lesbians!” so yeah. That was how it all started.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

 

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Mostly short stories, like most kids who dabble with words, but I wrote my first novel when I was still in high school. It was a totally cringe-worthy attempt at becoming the next Patricia Cornwell—whose stuff I was obsessedwith at the time—but it was words on the screen of a brick of a laptop and I was quite proud of it at the time. I then went on to become a Creative Writing major in college, which meant I got to write a lot of words and learn a lot of B.S. theories about what makes “good” writing that I completely ignored. Then life happened and writing kind of took a back seat for a while, and I eventually fell back into it with fanfiction. That was great because I was playing in someone else’s sandbox and could just refocus on finding my voice again, and then I eventually thought “why not?” and started working on Second Chances.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

 

God, that’s like asking me which child I love the most! I love all of my characters for different reasons, but I’m definitely the most attached to Bryn Nakamura from Spectrum.Her whole path-to-self-acceptance/awareness very much mirrors my own, so I feel very protective of her in a way that I don’t with my other characters who all start their stories knowing that very important part of themselves.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

 

Most start with an idea for a particular scene. For Heist, it was that first robbery in Paris. Characters are next, because my stories are all very character-driven. I’m not a fan of drama, I avoid confrontation like the plague in real life, and to me the “real” story is the two characters falling in love—everything else is just shit that happens to them in the course of that journey. Anyway, once I have the characters, I come up with a very, very rough idea for the arc of a story that feeds into/incorporates that scene I mentioned above, and then I start researching the shit out of everything about the world/careers/lives of my characters that I don’t know. Honestly, this is my favorite part of the process. I love learning new things and putting them to use to make my stories (hopefully) more believable, but then when the story is done I can move onto something new. Once I feel like I have a working-knowledge of everything important, I cobble together something that looks like at least the skeleton of actual story arc in Scrivener and start hacking away at it all.

 

 

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

 

I know I said my characters drive my stories, but the story also dictates what I will need from each character to make the whole thing work. In Heist, for example, I needed Parker to have a reason to know the less-than-honorable skills that she knows, as well as a reason to have to use them. The key points in Sheridan’s personality were born of the same need—she had to have a reason to resist falling for Parker. Everything else, all the little details and quirks that make them real, flow from there as the story progresses.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

 

I have a great little office in the basement, but I do pretty much all my writing at the kitchen island because my dog Hunter doesn’t like going downstairs (he’s a big dude, 140 pounds, so he’s not exactly built to manage stairs). Every time I do try to go downstairs to work, he’ll grudgingly follow me down there, rest his head on the desk so he’s staring at me, and cry until I give up and go back to the kitchen. At this point, I’ve basically given up on using the office, but maybe someday I’ll get back to it. Or maybe not. It really is convenient working right next to the kettle and snacks.

 

What is your writing process?

 

Besides what I said already? It’s pretty much: open Scrivener, look at where I left off the day before, and try like hell to hit my word count goal for the day. Oh!, and try to not get distracted with shiny new ideas. Some people can have multiple projects working, but I’ve found that I work best focusing on one story at a time.

 

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

 

I’m definitely getting better at plotting chapters for the story. I went at Second Chanceswithout any kind of a plan besides getting Mac and Charlie together and pretty much just winged the whole thing, but I’ve learned to see the helpfulness of actually planning further ahead. Switching from Word to Scrivener helped with this, too.

 

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

 

Definitely Scrivener. It’s seriously the best large-project writing program I’ve ever come across.

 

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

 

I honestly treasure every nice comment anyone has ever said about my work. But the messages I treasure the most are the ones where people reach out to tell me that a particular character touched them in some way. Writing is a very solitary process for the most part, so whenever I get a message like that it’s like, “Okay, I’ve done something good.”

 

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

 

I don’t know if there is one book that has really influenced my life. Or, at least, there isn’t one that immediately comes to mind that I can point to and say, “Yes, that one.”

 

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

 

Eventually, yes. I am still working on finishing up my latest story, Pas de Deux, but my goal is to have it out in March. It’s another LONG one, though, so we’ll see if I can swing it. *sighs* I really need to learn how to write shorter stories. Anyway, it’s a kinda-sorta-not-really sequel to Symphony in Blue.Kinda-sorta in that it’s in the same universe, but not-really because this time the story is about Mallory moving past everything that went down in Symphonyand finding her happily ever after. There are two people in every failed relationship and two different stories about how the relationship got to that point, and while she was painted as the necessary villain in Gwen’s story, she wasn’t in her own and I hated leaving her where I did.

 

How do you take your coffee?

 

Like Maeve Dylan, I prefer my coffee to not taste anything like coffee. Usually a splash of flavored creamer (it’s peppermint mocha season!) and milk is enough, but I’ve also done the hot chocolate mix thing that I gave to Maeve.