Archipelacon SF/F Reading Lists

During Archipelacon, several diverse SF/F titles were discussed at both the Diversity in YA and QUILTBAG in SF/F panel. Below is a list of books from Cheryl Morgan, Dirk Weger, and me. Please note, some of these books we have read and can personally recommend while others are titles on our radar which we are hearing good things about. All opinions are entirely our own and may differ radically from yours. That’s great! Please let us know your thoughts and feel free to recommend more titles so we can grow our list.

We are specifically interested in queer/questioning, undecided, intersex, lesbian, trans, bi, asexual, and gay characters in SF/F as well as characters of colour, with mental illness, physical disabilities, and/or minority ethnic or religious identity. Here we go…

QUILTBAG Reading List as per the LGBT panel at Archipelacon 2015

Dirk’s Lists

Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey
Karen Lord’s The Best of All Possible Worlds

Cheryl’s Lists
*Cheryl’s original list contains links to her reviews but for some reason the links didn’t work on my blog so please visit Cheryl’s original list HERE for reviews!

Single books

This list is by no means exhaustive. It simply includes books I have read and liked (in no particular order, and limited to one per writer).

Was – Geoff Ryman
Swordspoint – Ellen Kushner
Slow River – Nicola Griffith
China Mountain Zhang – Maureen McHugh
Shadow Man – Melissa Scott
The New Moon’s Arms – Nalo Hopkinson
The Drowning Girl – Caitlín R Kiernan
Vellum/Ink – Hal Duncan
The Forever War – Joe Haldeman *
The Passion of New Eve – Angela Carter
Dangerous Space – Kelley Eskridge
Brasyl – Ian McDonald
The Summer Prince – Alaya Dawn Johnson
Beyond Binary – Brit Mandelo (ed.)
Triton – Samuel R Delany
Palimpsest – Catherynne M Valente
The Courier’s New Bicycle – Kim Westwood
Ash – Malinda Lo
2312– Kim Stanley Robinson
Diana Comet & Other Improbable Stories – Sandra McDonald
The Black Opera – Mary Gentle
Eon – Alison Goodman

* For the benefit of those of you whose eyebrows have shot up, The Forever War contains one section in which the troops return home to discover that same-sex relationships have become the norm on Earth and heterosexuality is frowned upon. Joe is, of course, simply reflecting the unease felt by Vietnam veterans returning home to find the USA full of Hippies, but I include the book here to make the point that things like this could happen in a book in 1976, and the book could still win a Hugo.


Again these are all books I have read, though in the case of series possibly not all of them.

The Outremer series – Chaz Brenchley
The Orokon Saga – Tom Arden
The AngeLINK series – Lyda Morehouse
The Wraethtru books – Storm Constantine
The Element Logic series – Laurie J Marks
The Jacob’s Ladder Trilogy – Elizabeth Bear
Rhapsody of Blood – Roz Kaveney
Chaos Walking – Patrick Ness
The Siobhan Quinn books – Caitlín R. Kiernan
The Engelsfors Trilogy – Sara B Elfgren & Mats Strandberg

Dodgy Trans Books

These are all books that you will see held up by cis people as great books about trans characters, but which have some highly problematic elements.

The Female Man, Joanna Russ – basically TERF** propaganda, for which Russ has since apologized.
Ilario, Mary Gentle – great on intersex, but essentially contrasts “valid” intersex identities with “invalid” trans identities.
Pantomime, Laura Lam – shock reveal and use of circus freak symbolism.
Steel Beach, John Varley – bizarre and hilarious, nothing like actual trans people.
The Bone Palace, Amanda Downing – shock reveal and mired in trans community politics it doesn’t seem to understand.
I Will Fear No Evil, Robert A Heinlein – basically transvestite porn.
Friday, Robert A Heinlein – OK on trans, but awful in just about every other way.
A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold – transition for political gain with no understanding of personal issues.
I got asked during the panel what I thought authors should do to treat trans characters respectfully. What I said amounted to the following:
1. Treat the character with the same respect you’d give any other character;
2. Don’t use any shock revelations in the narrative, as this plays into the narrative that trans people are somehow deceitful;
3. Try not to use transition narratives — there is so much more to trans people’s lives than their transition;
4. Try to get an understanding of the breadth of different identities encompassed by the term trans, and do not confuse different identities in one character; and
5. Don’t use the story to privilege one type of trans people over other types.

** Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. The Female Man uses the TERF idea that trans women are a creation of the patriarchy intended to replace “real” women once those “real” women have become emancipated and no longer wish to associate with men. This includes the idea that “real” women are not naturally feminine, but two out of every seven men are naturally feminine.

Books with major characters who are L/G/B

Elysium – Jennifer Marie Brissett

Books with minor characters who are L/G/B

Wylding Hall – Elizabeth Hand
Glorious Angels – Justina Robson
The Area X Trilogy – Jeff VanderMeer

Books with minor characters who are T

Karen Memory – Elizabeth Bear (slightly dodgy)
The Galaxy Game – Karen Lord
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black
Elysium – Jennifer Marie Brissett (very dodgy)
Shadowboxer – Tricia Sullivan
Mirror Empire – Kameron Hurley
Gideon Smith and the Mask of the Ripper – David Barnett (not yet published)
Who Killed Sherlock Holmes – Paul Cornell (not yet published)
Utopia – Cory Doctorow (not yet published)

Books with major characters who are T

Rhapsody of Blood: Resurrections – Roz Kaveney

Books that redefine gender

Ancillary Justice & Ancillary Sword – Ann Leckie
Distress – Greg Egan
Diaspora – Greg Egan
Shadow Scale – Rachel Hartman

Interesting re-releases from Wizard’s Tower

Resurrection Code – Lyda Morehouse (major T character)
Damage Time – Colin Harvey (major I character)

Anthologies with some LGBT content

Kaleidoscope – Alisia Krasnostein & Julia Rios
Long Hidden – Daniel Jose Older & Rose Fox

Comics with major LGBT characters

All New X-Men – Michael Bendis
Angela, Asgard’s Assassin – Kieron Gillen
The Wicked & The Divine – Kieron Gillen


The following authors of speculative fiction all identify somewhere on the LGBT spectrum. Apologies to those whom I have omitted. There are of course many more, but all of these are people whose work I have read, and whom I know are openly out.

Geoff Ryman
Nicola Griffith
Samuel R Delany
Ellen Kushner
Kelley Eskridge
Delia Sherman
Chris Barzack
Caitlín R Kiernan
Roz Kaveney
Chaz Brenchley
Melissa Scott
Tom Arden
Lyda Morehouse
Laurie J Marks
Ellen Klages
Patrick Ness
Rick Bowes
Malinda Lo
Severna Park
Catherynne M. Valente
Hal Duncan
Charlie Jane Anders
Nalo Hopkinson
Joanna Russ
James Tiptree Jr.
Elizabeth Bear
Steve Berman
Catherine Lundoff
Candas Jane Dorsey
Elizabeth A Lynn
Tanya Huff
Jessica Amanda Salmonson
Billy Martin (formerly Poppy Z. Brite)
David Gerrold
Thomas M. Disch
Lawrence Schimel
Kij Johnson
Sophia MacDougall
Maria Davana Headley
Tove Jansson
Oscar Wilde
Frank M. Robinson
Octavia Butler
Katherine V. Forrest

Suzanne’s Lists

Books I’ve read featuring LGBT+ characters or themes:

Hobverse Series by Cat Hellisen (When the Sea is Rising Red, House of Sand and Secrets)
Coda by Emma Trevayne (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
Proxy by Alex London (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
The Sandman graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman (various LGBT+ characters)
Skulk by Rosie Best (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
The Adorned by John Tristan
The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (that one of the major characters is gay only becomes apparent in book 2, The Dream Thieves – also shows socio-economic diversity)
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Lost Souls and Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite
Dust by Elizabeth Bear (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice (various LGBT+ characters)
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler (polyamory, possible pansexuality)
The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson (Lesbian/Bisexual minor character, some discussion of LGBT+ issues + PoC and disabled characters)
Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson (LG supporting characters, PoC)
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward – (skip ahead to book 11 😉 )
Adaptation by Malinda Lo (only read book 1 in the series)

Books with questionable LGBT+ content

Embassytown by China Miéville
The Burning Sky (Elemental trilogy) by Sherry Thomas (cross-dressing character)
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey (gay supporting characters)

Books I haven’t read yet, but have heard good things about:

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (book 3 of the Graceling series)
Huntress by Malinda Lo
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey
Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
Every Day by David Levithan
Archangel Academy series by Michael Griffo
The Engelsfors Trilogy by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg

‘Diverse’ SF/F Reads as per my YA Diversity talk at Archipelacon

Cinder series by Marissa Meyer
The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
Ship Breaker series by Paolo Bacigalupi (loved this, especially book 2 – suited for more mature YA readers)
Gilded by Christina Farley (questionable representation of Korean protagonist)
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Tabula Rasa by Kristin Lippert-Martin
Icons by Margaret Stohl
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
City of a Thousand Dolls series by Miriam Forster
Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee
The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan (starts more MG but ages up with protagonist)

TV series

Sense8 (excellent trans representation – questionable racial/ethnic representation due to stereotyping)
Penny Dreadful (potentially problematic)
Sleepy Hollow
Teen Wolf

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WIPmarathon Check-in No. 17

Geez, where did June go? The first couple of weeks were pretty intense as we wrapped up the school year. The rest of the month has been delightfully chilled and filled with writing. My final days of June will be spent at Archipelacon in the company of George R R Martin amongst others, but I’m totally okay with spending the next four days away from my PC because the WIP is finished!

Last report WC for YA fantasy: 68, 000

Current report WC for YA fantasy: 83,414! Done!

Writing Issues This Month:

Nothing really. After re-outlining and getting into the groove with my beat sheet, it was a sprint to the finish that took surprisingly less time than anticipated. All in all, a good month for writing.

Things I learned this month:

1. I can write fantasy. Not only that I can write it, but I really really enjoy it. Granted this is more science fantasy but being my first foray in fantasy, I’m quite happy without the result despite all my misgivings at the start.

2. The real world is complex. The fantasy world needs to be just as complex. World-building is a huge undertaking and it’s going to take me a revision or two to refine the way my world works but I’m having so much fun with it!

3. I’ll never stop learning new things about craft. I’ve been watching Brandon Sanderson lectures on writing – thanks again Emma – and they’ve reaffirmed certain things I know while providing a fresh perspective, as well as provided much needed insight on things I didn’t know I needed to know.

4. Finishing a draft always has me simultaneously feeling elated and depressed. I’m always sad to finish a story, to bring the characters’ journey to a close, while I’m also super ecstatic to be done with the darn thing! Not that I’ll be away from these characters for long considering the amount of revisions this novel is undoubtedly going to need.

What distracted me this month while writing:

I received edits for Scardust on my first day of holiday when I still had three chapters left to write on the WIP. Usually, I dive straight into edits and shove everything else aside, but this time, I shoved edits aside to finish the WIP and it was a very smart move *self-five* Now, when I get back in July from Archipelacon, I can get stuck into edits without having a fantasy hangover.

Goal for next month:

Edits, edits, all the edits. My first pass edits of Scardust are due back by the end of July so that’s pretty much all I’ll have time for next month. It’s also all I want to work on.

Last 200 words: No way! It’s the end after all, so instead here are the top ranking first lines from a little ’10 first lines’ game thingie I posted on Facebook. Let me know which of these you like best, because that’ll be the next WIP :)

1) They say a man died here, hung from the thickest branch when the leaves were the color of blood. They say that when the wind blows through the fireoaks, it whispers the names of the dead. I’m listening to the wind now, but the only name I hear is my own.

2) His scars are staves, waiting for me to fill them with music.

3) My brother twitches in his sleep and bursts into flame.

4) The scent of magic hung in the air, peppery and sneeze-inducing. Once again my allergies were going to get us busted.

5) With the gentle strokes of a brush, I am pulled from nothing and made real upon a stretched canvas in shades of viridian and raw umber.

That’s it for June, how did you do?

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Writing Wednesdays – a writerly update


#WritingWednesdays is a weekly blog hop/meme where we writers tell the world how all the writerly things are going. It’s a way for us to self-motivate and cheer each other on. And so here’s how this week has been going…

1. The WIP is finished! *sound the trumpets* I wanted to get it done before going away for Archipelacon this weekend and it happened! :)Although my initial word count goal was around 73-75k words for the first draft, the ms ended up being 84k words! Since I’m trying to keep the final ms around 85k words, this doesn’t give me much wiggle room for revisions.

2. Thanks to Emma Adams, I’ve been watching a lot of Brandon Sanderson’s lectures on writing craft. Much of it I already know and have been using *self-five* but some of his ideas have given me a fresh perspective on the fantasy genre and I know there’s a lot I need to go back and fix in my ms.

3. My goal this week is to focus on Archipelacon and get my head out of the fantasy ms so I can come back ready to focus on Scardust edits starting next week.

And that’s that for this week!

How has your writerly week been going?

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Amber Smoke Blog Tour

Official Blog Tour June 8th-22nd


Amber Smoke
The Monster Within #2
Author: Kristin Cast
Publisher: Diversion Books
Release Date: June 9th, 2015
ISBN: e-9781626815520 | p-9781626815537

Price: e$9.99 | p$14.99

Amber smoke_approved_hi res

There is a world that runs parallel to our own, a world in which the souls of the damned are caged, where they are looked over by the Furies, and where they spend eternity in torment, mirroring the devastation and mayhem they created when alive.

Someone has opened the cage.

The worst of terrors has crossed the barrier that separates our world from theirs, and the Furies send a great, albeit untested warrior—their only son, Alek—to try to bring those souls back.  He is young and handsome, headstrong and impulsive, and he won’t be able to do it alone.

Eva has grown up, beautiful and beloved, but surrounded by secrets.  First, she will be hunted in an ancient feud that will threaten her life.  Then, she will become the hunter.
With the police closing in and two worlds on the verge of crumbling around them, Alek and Eva must find each other, discover the limits of their powers, and work together to save everything they hold dear, including one another.  Blending elements of mythology with the dazzling storytelling that her fans have devoured through the House of Night series, Kristin Cast weaves a spellbinding and passionate tale that starts a thrilling new series with an explosive charge.

Add this book on Goodreads or pre-order on on Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo


Amber Smoke is thrilling and funny with just the right amount of magic. Brilliant job, Kristin Cast!” —Kresley Cole, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“I love Kristin Cast! In Amber Smoke, Cast’s wit, creativity and talent shine!  I turned the pages at lightning speed, ready for more! What a tasty treat!” —Gena Showalter, New York Times & USA Today bestselling author


Kristin Cast is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who teamed with her mother to write the wildly successful House of Night series. She has editorial credits, a thriving t-shirt line, and a passion for all things paranormal. When away from her writing desk, Kristin loves relaxing with her significant other and their dogs, and discovering new hobbies. This year she’ll work on swimming, yoga, and adding to her Doctor Who collection.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube



One winner will get: (One) signed copy of the book (print), $50 Nook gift card,  temporary tattoo metallic (book inspired object). US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Main Tour Page

June 8th: Bookish REVIEW
June 9th: Once Upon A Twilight REVIEW
June 10th: Book Briefs REVIEW + TENS LIST
June 11th: Taking It One Book At A Time REVIEW
June 12th: Novel Novice TEN RANDOM THINGS
June 13th: Good Choice Reading REVIEW
June 14th: Fiktshun REVIEW
June 15th: Fictitious Delicious MUSIC PLAYLIST
June 16th: A Dream Within A Dream REVIEW
June 17th: Two Chicks On Books AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 18th: Curling Up With A Good Book REVIEW
June 19th: Bookaholics Anonymous REVIEW 
June 20th: Lost in Ever After REVIEW
June 21st: Bitches & Prose REVIEW + EXCERPT
June 22nd Me, My Shelf and I REVIEW

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WritingWednesdays – a weekly writerly update


#WritingWednesdays is a weekly blog hop/meme where we writers tell the world how all the writerly things are going. It’s a way for us to self-motivate and cheer each other on. Today is my first day of summer vacation! *pours all the wine*

Here’s what’s been happening this week for me:

1. I’m sitting on 79k (edit: I’m now up to 80,5k! Woot!) words with only 3 chapters left to write. I know there is a lot I need to fix and possibly rewrite, but I really just want to get this draft done now so I can let it rest over the summer and come back fresh to it in the Autumn.

2. This morning I received my editorial letter and first pass edits for Scardust! This is extremely exciting and terrifying and awesome, but it means my brain is currently being pulled back toward that story while my heart is firmly with my WIP characters. I’m going to ignore the edits this week and try to finish the WIP. I might even wait til July to dive into edits unencumbered by the WIP because Archipelacon is just around the corner and I have quite a bit of prep to do for that.

3. My definite goal this week is to finish the WIP and get everything sorted for the convention. That’ll give me time to ruminate on things in my editorial letter so that when I sit down again with the edits, I can give myself over completely to revisions of Scardust.

That’s pretty much it for this week.

How has your writerly week been going?

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Chameleon Cover Reveal

Chameleon (The Domino Project #1) is a YA futuristic

science fiction story. It’s set in the wasteland of earth after a meteor shower

devastates landmasses, makes seas rise, introduces the psionic gene into the human

race, damages the atmosphere, and gives the gift of an alien parasite to the


After Sai’s newly awoken psionic power

accidentally destroys her apartment complex, she’s thrown into an intensive

training program. The only grades are pass or die.

Surviving means proving her continued existence isn’t a mistake–a task her

new mentor, Bastian, takes personally. Her abilities place her in the GNW Enforcer

division, which partners her with Domino 12, who is eerily human for an alien-

parasite and psionic hybrid. When her assassination duties are revealed, Sai

understands the real reason for her training.

On a mission to dispatch a dangerous Exiled scientist, she uncovers truths she

never thought possible. Sai is unsure who to trust as her next mission might be her

last, and a double agent seems to be manipulating both sides.

Without further ado – here is the cover, by the amazingly talented S.P. McConnell.

It’s finally here

CHAMELEON Domino Project Front with Text 2

Isn’t it GORGEOUS!?!?!

Sit back and bask in this for a moment.

It’s available for preorder for a special price of $2.99 from Amazon

About the AuthorMeKT Hanna has a love for words so extreme, a single word can spark entire worlds.

Born in Australia, she met her husband in a computer game, moved to the U.S.A. and went into culture shock. Bonus? Not as many creatures specifically out to kill you.

When she’s not writing, she freelance edits for Chimera Editing, interns for a NYC Agency, and chases her daughter, husband, corgi, and cat. No, she doesn’t sleep. She is entirely powered by the number 2, caffeine, and beef jerky.

Note: Still searching for her Tardis


To celebrate, we’re giving away 2 x $10 Amazon e-gift

cards (open to anyone who can receive and use an Amazon e-card) Just click on as

many options as you like and enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Summer Month9Books To-read List!


Finally! It’s summer! Well, almost… I’ve still got another couple days of work until I’m officially on holiday but the sun is shining and I’m wearing shorts for the first time this season! Summer is when I catch up on the reading I haven’t managed during the academic year. This summer I’m setting myself the specific task of catching up on Month9Books titles because I definitely need to read more titles by my own publisher! Without further ado, here they are…



Look at that stunning cover! This book features a strong female character of colour in a dystopian setting. I also know this book has a strong feminist vibe about it as it explores gender roles and sexism. Also, magic! What’s not to like about this one? 😉


Another gorgeous cover! This is a retelling of the Snow Queen fairytale. I’m a sucker for fairytale retellings and the Scandinavian connection here makes me even more excited to read this story. Also, I hear that Kai is super swoon worthy.

Another Month9Books titles I hope to get around to reading sometime this summer are:

1. The Perilous Journey of the Not So Innocuous Girl

2. Fire in the Woods

3. The Artisans

What are you reading this summer?

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WritingWednesdays! A mid-week update on all things writerly…


#WritingWednesdays is a weekly blog hop/meme where we writers tell the world how all the writerly things are going. It’s a way for us to self-motivate and cheer each other on. Last week was all kinds of crazy and I didn’t manage to get a post up but this week hasn’t actually gone too badly.

Here’s what’s been happening this week for me:

1. I hit 75k – I’m actually sitting just under 76k. My target word count for this first draft was 75k, so that’s it, I’m done, right? …wrong!

2. Having now outlined all chapters until The End, I realized that there was at least 10k words left of story to tell, so my new final word count goal was 80k – now that I’ve actually started writing out those chapters, I realize it might take quite a few more words than initially anticipated. I’m just going to get this draft done, and ignore the word count until I start revising.

3. Writing is going well. Now that I’m in the home stretch and now exactly what’s happening, the words are flowing and it’s simply a matter of sitting down to write said words.

4. I probably could’ve finished this novel on the weekend but I binge watched Daredevil instead. If you haven’t seen this series and are in any way a fan of comic books, I strongly suggest you watch this series. Immediately. Go now. I’ll wait…

That’s it for this week. Goal for next week is to survive the last few days of the day job and write as many words as possible.

How has your writerly week been going?

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The Angel at the Devil’s Gate


Troubled teen Eli Nunn is moved back to Kansas City following the aftermath of a violent drug deal. Returning to a school where his ruthless reputation still thrives, Eli encounters and instantly connects with Angel, a beautiful and mysterious black-clad orphan. Their flourishing romance begins to grow darker when Eli learns details of Angel’s chilling past. Conflicted with alarm and intrigue, Eli accepts a proposal from Angel that puts both their relationship and lives in danger.

First, tell me a little about your book and why you wanted to write this particular story….

The Angel at the Devil’s Gate is a psychological suspense about Eli and Angel, two teenage outcasts whose flourishing romance takes a dark turn when secrets and murder puts both their relationship and lives in danger.

I was always drawn to the villain in stories and television shows, even as a child. I was always curious to know their backstory, to know what made the darkness so alluring to them. I knew I wanted to attempt a novel where the protagonists would be considered the villain in any other story; however, I wasn’t quite sure how to go about that. It wasn’t until watching a marathon on true crime investigations on the ID channel that I was given a direction on how to write the novel.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated or did you always just know?

I always had an active imagination as a kid. I could stay in my room for hours just thinking up scary scenarios. I’m unsure if I can pinpoint how my love for writing came about, but I do believe my interest in horror movies as a child played an immense part with my interest in writing. I remember directly after watching A Nightmare on Elm Street going to a notebook and writing a story about a monster who lives in your dreams.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I wrote Eli and Angel to be metaphors for the outsider within us all. I use how both characters react to their differences from my own experiences. While I was younger, I was angry that I did not wholly belong, and as I got older, I become more apathetic, embracing how different I was and finding beauty in it. I like to put a little of myself into my writing as metaphors, but I haven’t yet based anything on an event in my life; it’s only been sentiments so far.

Out of all the characters in your book, who is your favorite to write? There’s always a fan favorite to read about but sometimes it’s the side characters that are the most fun.

I had the most fun with Angel. That character has a hold on me and refuses to let go. I think it’s how brave Angel is that really makes me admire the character. Angel can be in the worst of situations and find a way out of it.

Is your book part of a series, and if so, how many will there be?

A follow-up to The Angel at the Devil’s Gate can be very tricky, and it’ll take a lot of plotting to achieve; I’m unsure if I can make it work. I’ve given it a little thought, nonetheless. I do have a companion short story called The Angel of Death, which will be available to backers who help fund the publication of The Angel at the Devil’s Gate on Kickstarter.

What are you working on now?

I’m in the tedious editing process of The Possession of Susan Rite, a horror novel, which will also be rewarded to backers who support my project on Kickstarter upon the novel’s completion. I finished the first draft of the novel four years ago, right before I began writing The Angel at the Devil’s Gate. After really submerging myself in research on demonic possession to give the novel a more authentic feel, I went back to editing it. I’m very proud of the outcome of it.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Writing a character who has a completely different viewpoint from me is a bit of a challenge, because I want them to sound and act authentic. I found this issue in Eli. Eli speaks totally different from me, not only does he have a heavy southern accent that I wanted to be seen in the writing, he uses improper grammar as well. When readers see that in the pages, their mind tells them that the character isn’t intelligent, which isn’t the case with Eli. He isn’t book smart like Angel, but he has his own intelligences. It was a challenge to make him a believable character. Scenery is also a challenge for me. I want the reader to be in the scene with me, but I don’t want the leaden the pages with details, doing so can take away from the story. I think Stephen King has that method down perfectly.


Find out more and support the Kickstarter for this project over here:

Kickstarter for The Angel at the Devil’s Gate

About the Author:

Picture close_2I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and like most writers, I had a passion for writing as a child; however, I was terribly shy (I still am to a certain extent) and refused to enter any writing competitions or show my writing to anyone but my mother and brother. Nonetheless, I knew I wanted to be an author and it’s a dream I strive to achieve. I attended the University of Central Missouri for journalism with a minor in creative writing. I’m currently in the tedious yet delightful (sometimes) editing process of my second novel, The Possession of Susan Rite, and doing research for my third novel. If you have any questions or just want to chat, you can reach me on Twitter at my VERY original handle name: Mocha_Writer.

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WIPmarathon Check-in No. 16

May has been super busy and has actually felt quite long, probably because I’m in the home-stretch at school with summer holidays just around the corner. I’m counting the days! Right, so while May was busy being my birthday month and being the month of marking and report writing, I actually didn’t do too badly this month.

Last report WC for YA fantasy: 58, 000

Current report WC for YA fantasy: 68, 000 – it seems I’m always off my goal by 2k! Grrr. Wanted to hit 70k this month, but it just didn’t happen.

Writing Issues This Month:

A new and exciting character appeared in chapter 29. This completely derailed my story. I was so close to finishing too, when this guy popped up and was all ‘look at me, look at me,’ demanding I make the novel all about him. So, I had to pause and create a beat sheet and then figure out how to rework the story to include this new badass in the story without having to rewrite everything, because the rest of the story is pretty decent for a first draft.

Five things I learned this month:

1. Knowing how a book will end is no guarantee characters won’t surprise you and send you back to the drawing board just when you think you’ve got it all figured out.

2. It’s okay to outline mid-draft or in my case, at the I’m-almost-finished point in the draft. Anything is okay as long as it makes for a better, stronger book.

3. There are very specific reasons why certain fictional characters are so well loved – be it from film, TV or books. I need to apply these character creation techniques a lot more in my own writing. I’ve started to do this and have found it helps me to create more complex characters.

4. Sometimes cutting words is the best thing for a manuscript. Even though it feels like regression to see the word count drop, it is often a very good thing and results in a tighter, better story. Do not be afraid to hit delete!

What distracted me this month while writing:

Work. I’ve done pretty well staying focused on this WIP and not giving into the temptation of the SNI. It’s really just been work that’s taken up usual writing time.

Goal for next month:

Write words. Figure out a proper ending for this story which means deciding whether or not to let the bad guy win. Until I make up my mind, I won’t be able to finish this WIP. Sigh.

Last 200 words: Let me introduce you to my third POV character, Zenza – yes, I have three third person POV characters 0.o This scene takes place with the witches…

Incensed, Vanda loomed over Zenza as he did his best to keep from cowering. A shift in the air, a tremor in the matrix of energy – Zenza could swear another entity moved through the chamber. Somnolent, yet dangerous – the presence caused a rash of prickling uncertainty across his skin.

“There will be no peace with the Vreesvelders as long as we draw breath, little bird.” Vanda grabbed a handful of his hair, pulling him to his feet. Upon touching him, her youth eroded, the glamor failing as she became the withered hag once more. Was that laughter? Zenza strained to catch the echoes of a ghostly voice, but heard only the symphony of the jungle outside.

“You will watch, and you will report back to us by sundown,” Vanda said. “If they discover what you are, they will destroy us.” She released him with a blast of energy that ripped away the branches and toppled the other witches from their stools. To Zenza, it felt like the kiss of a morning breeze, fanning the feathers in his hair. Suppressing the snide smile tugging at his lips, he bowed low and backed away, aiming for a corridor leading deeper into the ruined building. Out of sight, he rubbed at the smarting spot on his head where her nails had broken his skin.

That’s it for May, how did you do?

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