MEET LJ DARE!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present author LJ DARE!

LJ’s writing is very near and dear to me. Her tales are reminiscent of the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson and Jane Austen. What I love best about her is how ‘PG’ she is; I was perfectly comfortable giving her stories to my teenage niece to read. The historicity of her tales – combined with her strong sense of good taste – makes her work read like it’s straight out of the nineteenth century, my favorite era in literature.

So without any further ado … LJ DARE!!!

Blurb for The King’s Blade

After surviving a massacre, Lady Megan MacKelloch intends on seeking sanctuary with the Poor Claires for herself and her young sisters. That is until Lord John Lindsay, known as The King’s Blade, is ordered to find her.
As the Crown’s chief criminal investigator, Lindsay metes out justice as he deals with murder, betrayal and intrigue but never has he encountered such female resistance. Life has taught John and Megan not to believe in love. So, when forced into marriage by a Royal Decree, can they set aside their differences and learn to trust their hearts?

Burb for A Bride for the King

Accompanying her twin sister who is marry the Barovian King, Lady Belle Bradford agrees to switch places with her sister until after her twin has met her future husband. But when rebels surrounded the village, Belle is whisked away to safety by the King’s military commander.
Prince Nikolai Orsini, heir apparent and Supreme Commander of Barovian Forces, recognizes his only duty is to get his future Queen safely to the church on time. What he hadn’t counted on was falling in love with her. Deceived, betrayed and hunted, can these two learn to rely on love?

Blurb for The King’s Spy

Working undercover for the monarchy as the King’s Spy, Baron Donovan Forbes investigates rumors of possible abductions, espionage and treasonous plots. That is until he encounters the unpredictable Lady Eileen Fraser. Eileen will do anything to escape her older sister’s scandalous reputation. Even if it entails stealing a horse, donning a disguise, organising a rescue, or spying on Forbes’ clandestine activities. So, when forced into marriage by Royal Decree, will Novan and Eileen discover that while love at first sight is blind? But will it conquer all?

Meet LJ!

When did you start writing? What made you first heard decide to try your hand at it?

I’ve always written-poems, lyrics, skits, and have been curious about everything, asking ‘what if, why?’  I kept a journal with words I didn’t know the meaning of, then added bits of conversation I had heard, descriptions of people, places, emotions, expressions, new ideas and unusual situations. Then in college, I took a playwriting class.

What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?

The King’s Blade, novel #10 (the other eight are contemporary) & it was my 2nd historical. I am very proud of the story line that is based on historical fact.

How do you balance writing with your personal life?

I run my errands, do lunch prep, housework, gardening, laundry in the mornings. I spend my afternoons  writing, working on correcting the edits I receive, researching and/or doing social media promotion. In between this I pick up my great-grandson from school, drive my brother to his appointments, assist my husband in the office. & most important of all, I always take my clipboard with my writing on it with me.

Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?

Not normally but in Book #6-Whispers of Deceit that is currently in the editing phase, the two little boys are a combination of my younger brothers, John & James and my Great-grandson, Brayden.

Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?

I would like to write about Hadrian’s Wall& the Roman occupation of Scotland. I was very impressed with the artifacts that are housed in the Roman Museum, near the archeological site of Vindoland west of Hexham, England.  

Have you ever written a story based on a personal experience you had? If so, what was it about?

Not an entire story but I’ve used actual life experiences I’ve had. We are retired military and have been fortunate to have traveled the world. Both my husband and I love history so we naturally gravitate toward historical places and museums. My most memorable, is in my Civil War Spies Book#3, Web of Intrigue  (which I’mwriting now) was standing on Little Roundtop at Gettysburg. I used the vertical climb of dark uneven stairs of the Drum Tower in Beijing in A Bride for a King. The storm we encountered crossing the North Sea from Copenhagen to Harwich, England in Civil War Spies Book #1, Deadly Secrets. The borderlands and St. Margaret’s Chapel  in The King’s Blade,  the grounds of Edinburgh Castle in The King’s Spy and the area of Loch Lomond in The King’s Ladies.

Do you let real-life events influence your work, or is there a ‘disconnect’ between your stories and world/national/local events?

When I write, I am very aware of how I portray all of my characters. We all have positive and negative traits. I do try to treat all with respect.

Is your writing time planned out or structured? Do you go on writing ‘benders’?

I am a planner. I create the plot and characters so that when I sit down to write I know what I’m writing and where I’m going with it. Now, does that mean that sometimes my writing doesn’t take a curve ball?  Of course it does. I don’t fight it, I go with it to see where it leads and thus far, it is better than what I had first planned by giving me more twists and turns in the plot.

What to you is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?

For me its sitting down and creating an imaginary world that ‘lives’ for me. Since I write transformational, my goal is when readers finish my novels, they have a sense of hope, that through all adversity, love, kindness and respect conquers all.   

Do you write when you take a vacation, or do you prefer to simply relax?

I write everywhere, while sitting at the bow of a boat traveling down the Amazon River, The Nile, The Mekong, & the Yangtze. On airplanes, buses, autos, trains , in restaurants, on a park bench, and even once during Father Charlie’s Sunday sermon. I always carry a note pad and pen.

What’s one quirky thing about you that your readers might not know?

When we were stationed at Ft. Riley, KS, I taught Speech and Drama in Junction City. When we moved to Arizona, the state wasn’t hiring out of state teachers, so I went to work at the local hospital. Central Processing & Central Sterile was attached to the Surgery Department. I often worked the weekend and that meant I often times was pulled into surgery in case the surgical team needed additional supplies. Thus I became very interested in the practice of medicine. Which I’ve also had helped in my writing. When Arizona opened their hiring doors, I changed from secondary to elementary and returned to teaching. I’m short, so at least this time I was a bit taller than most of my students.

What’s your favorite movie? Why?

Gone with the Wind. The sheer scope of the subject, action, cast and characters still leave me breathless. But the fall of 2019, our Granddaughter gave us tickets for the stage play, Hamilton. Both my husband and I were blown away with the plot, talent and music of the play. 

Do you set up events to meet your readers, or is your interaction with them strictly online?

Tomorrow, I am giving a presentation at a charter school in the area. On the 9th, I will be appearing at the Aquarius Casino’s Girls’ Day Out event in Laughlin, NV. I’ve done that event since 2017 but when Covid struck it was cancelled last year but has resumed this year.

Have you ever had to exhaustively research something (say, history) for any of your books?

I love researching, so I look forward to finding the quirks and little-known facts. For me that is what makes history exciting.

THANK you, LJ, for gracing the pages of virginiawallace.com today! Thank you for your endearing, pulse-pounding tales, and here’s wishing you all the best in the future!

LJ Dare’s books are available on Amazon.com. (Sorry, no link. Amazon tends to hijack my page and drive my security programs bonkers.)

To read more about LJ Dare on virginiawallace.com: https://virginiawallace.com/2020/10/02/the-kings-blade-by-l-j-dare-a-review/

MEET GERRY (ALAN) SOUTER!!!

Today, ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to host a living icon upon my humble page: The one and only Gerry (Alan) Souter!

I’ll let him introduce himself in his bio, but let me tell you… you’ll never meet a funnier, wiser, or more accomplished person. I’m honored to call him my teammate at Black Velvet Seductions Publishing, and I’m beyond honored that he often makes time bestow both his wit and wisdom upon me.

So without any further ado, friends…

I give you GERRY!!!

Gerry (Alan) Souter Biography

“A Thread of Sand,” his debut novel, reflects his wealth of knowledge and empathy with the characters he has created as a professional author.

Gerry was an artist before he was an author, making his first clearly identifiable drawings of the steam trains that passed by his crib window at age three. From there, came a statewide-winning painting at age 13 sending him to the School of the Art Institute—his eventual alma mater along with the University of Chicago where he earned a bachelor of art education degree with graduate honors in photography.

A career as a photojournalist followed for thirty years traveling around the world on story-telling and award-winning assignments for newspapers: Chicago Tribune, Sun Times, magazines, world travel, and industrial collateral. He turned his story-telling to filmed documentaries, producing 14 award-winning video productions. With much of his photojournalism, he wrote the accompanying text, mentored by experienced editors.

His quality writing impressed a major publisher to request a non-fiction book: “The History of the America Firehouse.” It received rave reviews and went into four editions. More book requests were offered: American histories, military histories, biographies, fine arts, auto racing, a memoir. Gerry—and his Art Institute sweetheart, Janet, also an award-winning author—criss-crossed the United States and foreign locations doing research for their new company: www.avril1.com.

His world travels and experiences from the Arctic Circle to equatorial Venezuelan jungles and the desert sands of Egypt. Paris in the spring, sailing up the Nile, free ballooning over the Rocky Mountains, breaking the sound barrier in a jet fighter, astride horses over fences in competitions—all these experiences and many more are available to his fiction writing. “A Thread of Sand,” his 57th traditionally published book and debut novel, amzn.to/2L4WHHU  reflects his wealth of knowledge and empathy with the characters he has created as a professional author.

A Thread of Sand blurb –

In 1891, a young gifted British artist, Lady Julia Carstairs, travels to the Wild West. She learns more than a young lady should about life as she survives the rigors of a Texas brothel. Julia escapes and flees the US to find work as an artist in Egypt. Follow her journey as she avoids the clutches of sinister Dervish rebels. Feel the temperature rise, as she is passionately seduced by both men and women on the way, finding true love in the arms of a British Lieutenant.
A seductive erotic story that spans half the globe. Can Julia’s love survive the turmoil of these perilous times?

A Thread of Sand review, by Virginia Wallace –

‘Her terror froze her into immobility as her sanity dangled by a single thread of sand…’ – line from Gerry (Alan) Souter’s A Thread of Sand

A Thread of Sand is a major favorite in my household. It’s the first novel I read from Black Velvet Seductions when I was hired on, and I was pretty well blown away by the fast-paced, breath-taking narrative.

Now, let me be clear here: A Thread of Sand is not a romance novel. I think it’s important to clarify that, because I’ve learned that bad reviews don’t come from bad writing. Rather, they come from disappointed expectations. It’s best to be clear about what a story is—or isn’t—right out of the gate, so the readers know what to expect.

So no, A Thread of Sand isn’t a romance novel, in the sense that the story doesn’t revolve around the pursuit of a single relationship. Rather, it’s a rollicking action/adventure tale with heavily erotic overtones. I think it’s best compared to a lot of pulp-fiction novels that were published in the thirties and forties. And therein lies its utter genius; you just don’t run across many stories like that anymore.

The tale revolves around a well-bred, English Countess named Julia Carstairs. She’s intelligent, artistic, strong… and very, very damaged! She’s certainly one of the darkest heroines I’ve ever read. What’s brilliant about the tale is that we’re told right from the get-go that she was once sex-trafficked in a ‘Wild West’ brothel, so the reader immediately gets a firm grasp upon that side of her character. It also explains her wildly promiscuous behavior, which would otherwise have been very unusual for the turn of the twentieth century.

Julia’s story is one of internal conflict, with the talented, genteel Lady ever struggling to overcome the traumatized creature within. I think that’s very relatable, because—as I’m fond of saying—we’re all a bit of the Walking Wounded.

The action and historical details are both gripping and engaging, certainly on par with writings from the likes of Jules Verne or Edgar Rice Burroughs. I really enjoyed the fictitious portrayal of Winston Churchill. Some of us history buffs might view Churchill as an overweight lush with dubious leadership abilities, but he wasn’t always like that. It was fun to see him as the fit, competent soldier that he was as a younger man.

A Thread of Sand is a must-read for fans of historical fiction, action/adventure, and erotica. The tale just roars along from beginning to end, relentlessly dragging the reader pell-mell toward a thrilling climax and satisfying ending.

When you’ve finished reading, you can almost close your eyes and feel the desert wind on your face…

AN INTERVIEW WITH GERRY (ALAN)!!!

When did you start writing? What made you first decide to try your hand at it?

Age 4. I did a drawing of a locomotive – three cars and a caboose-underneath it, I wrote  “Train”

What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?

“The DISConnection” 1990  About all manner of discs from Videodiscs to CDRs and their hardware. Very good—In print for 10 years

How do you balance writing with your personal life?

I don’t. I have no personal life. My wife has a life. I tag along with her. She’s also a prize winning author.

Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?

Pieces of them. A bit of bone and a hank of hair

Do family members or friends help with your writing? Your marketing?

They flee when they see me coming

Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?

Yes, but they sit in my head and scream to be set free

Is there a story you’re afraid to write for some reason? Why?

No, I’ll embarrass anyone and I don’t owe anyone money

Do you ever target differing age groups or demographics with your writing?

All the time. YA, Veterans, women… I’m an all-purpose author. No one is safe.

Have you ever written non-fiction? If so, what?

I’ve written 56 non-fiction traditionally published books, almost all histories, biographies, or one memoir

Are you a ‘normal’ person who likes to write, or do you consider yourself more of the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type?

I left “normal” when I graduated grammar school. I am a complete story-telling loon. I have a beat-box mouth, I shoot all manner of weapons, I used to jump horses over fences for ribbons. I write books and magazine articles about everything I’ve done. I paint and draw every week for four hours. I’ve broken the sound barrier in a jet fighter. I’ve traveled all over the world as a photojournalist. I love popcicles. Driven? I’ve driven an Indy race car an average of 111 mph at the Joliet Speedway.

Do you drink? Why or why not?

I drink about four ounces of Rye whisky every two weeks. I would drink more, but my kids will only buy me so many bottles a month. Same goes for pot. My wife’s a wine junky.

Are you married? How does being a writer affect that? Has your marriage affected the way you write love stories?

Yes, No and No

If you could see one of your stories made into a movie, which one would you pick and why?

“Thread of Sand”. It has everything in it a good movie in today’s market requires Second would be “Kilgore’s Colt”

How does your life experience influence your writing?

My life experience is my writing. I’ve experienced great bags of life experience. I once drank snake blood for Christ’s sake!

Do you try to keep your stories within their pre-determined genres, or do you just tell the story your way regardless of genre expectations?

I write for the reader

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kinds? Does music influence your stories?

I need dead silence. I used to play the viola.

Have you ever written a story based on a personal experience you had? If so, what was it about?

Virtually all my stories reflect in part my personal experiences (except biographies of course.)

Do you let real-life events influence your work, or is there a ‘disconnect’ between your stories and world/national/local events?

The closest I’ve come to world events was the “Troubles” in Ireland when I was arrested for being a suspected terrorist.

Is your writing time planned out or structured? Do you go on writing ‘benders’?

I always start out with a plan and structure and I am always surprised.

What to you is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?

The look on people’s face when I say I am ”an author.”

Who is your favorite author, and why?

Ernest Hemingway . He had basketball-size cojones in his life and writing until he eventually let all the air out.

If you could pick anyone to narrate one of your books, who would it be?

Anyone without a lisp

Which character of yours is your favorite? Why? Whom would you pick to play him/her/it in a movie?

Lady Julia Carstairs OBE Countess of Ashford I would pick any good actress under 30

Do you write when you take a vacation, or do you prefer to simply relax?

I dissolve on vacation and usually write poetry.

Do you prefer to read fiction that’s similar to what you write, or do you pick different types of stories?

Different types. Who wants to read better fiction then I can write?

What’s one quirky thing about you that your readers might not know?

I have a crush on Virginia Wallace

What’s your favorite movie? Why?

Citizen Kane. I identify with Kane.

Do you set up events to meet your readers, or is your interaction with them strictly online?

You mean face to face?  Jan and I are always at book fairs. We see them then and are always pleased with their good taste

Have you ever had to exhaustively research something (say, history) for any of your books?

All the time. That’s what history writers do

What’s a question I haven’t asked that you’d like to answer?

My shoe size is 11-1/2

THANK you, Gerry, for gracing the pages of virginiawallace.com! Here’s to your success thus far, and may you find more in the future!

A Thread of Sand is available on Amazon.com. (Sorry no link, but a title search pulls it right up. Amazon’s links are CRAZY invasive, and play hell with my page!)

Gerry’s impressive career in both fiction and non-fiction can be viewed here: www.avril1.com

To see more of Gerry on virginiawallace.com : https://virginiawallace.com/2020/08/23/eating-bugs-and-drinking-lava-by-gerry-souter/

Meet Author K. Rose!!!

Blurb for The Prophecy of the Water Sprite:

Our kind has been enslaved by the Fae for as long as this kingdom remembers. They need us to keep water in their kingdom flowing, without it, their kind would surely all perish, as not even the powerful Fae have control over the waters that feed life to everything. Somewhere along the line, they all lost that ability, as if that element revolted against them.

For over twenty-one years I’ve been kept in the dark about my true heritage, being raised as a witch, like my auntie, that can wield water with spells. Soon I would be old enough to leave my childhood home and go beyond the protection spell that has kept me safe all these years to seek out my destiny.

A vision—perhaps even a prophecy, in the castle where I was born caused my parents to secret me away under the cover of darkness. I was saved by an unlikely partnership.

For the first time in thousands of years, the elements are set to combine into the greatest power ever known, and somehow I am the center of it all.

The power of the elements are told to bring about peace in the lands and restore life in the realm to a greatness more than it has ever been before.

No more struggles for food, no more starvation. No more taxation with penalties of death. No more hatred and fear of the rulers of the kingdom. Only prosperity, health, and maybe even something more?

And now for an AUTHOR INTERVIEW!!!

When did you start writing? What made you first decide to try your hand at it?
I started writing April 2021. I wrote a blurb for what was supposed to be a fake book and
an April Fools Day joke.


What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?
The Prophecy of the Water Sprite is my only published novel, and I think I did really well
for a debut novel… and really a first story ever written. Even in high school I drew a picture instead of writing a 1000 word short story in English class.


How do you balance writing with your personal life?
I don’t really balance it well, I go all in on the writing when the muse is working. I
remember I had a 14 hour day during the first drafting of The Prophecy of the Water Sprite.


Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?
No, I didn’t make anyone I know into the fictional characters, though I think there are
traits that I pull from them.


Do family members or friends help with your writing? Your marketing?
No, I wish I had even friends that helped. But I currently just have a few acquaintances—
that are working their way to friends I hope— that I have met from being on ARC and Beta teams, they help with random questions that I don’t seem to be able to find answers for on my own.


Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?
Yes. I currently have ideas jotted down for at least 5 stories. One of which I have already
started writing! And two that are not ‘in my lane’ but I will write them anyway!


Is there a story you’re afraid to write for some reason? Why?
The 3rd story I had an idea form for is contemporary, and I am a bit afraid of not hitting
the mark with it. Without having magic and fantastical things to keep from painting myself into a corner, I might have a hard time with the realism of it all.


Do you ever target differing age groups or demographics with your writing?
I am not targeting anything. I figure there are enough other writers already doing that, if
I keep mine the way my brain produces them, I hope the originality will win over everything else.


Have you ever written non-fiction? If so, what?
No. Never actually wrote a story—at all—prior to The Prophecy of the Water Sprite.


Are you a ‘normal’ person who likes to write, or do you consider yourself more of the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type?
Pretty sure I am not normal, but I don’t feel like I am the latter of that either.


Do you drink? Why or why not?
Rarely. I have too many alcoholics in my life, and I see the damage it causes.


Are you married? How does being a writer affect that? Has your marriage affected the way you write love stories?
I am not married, but I have been with my guy for almost 20 years. He is constantly
jealous of the time I spend writing and promoting the book with the social media community.


If you could see one of your stories made into a movie, which one would you pick and why?
Well of Course I would choose The Prophecy of the Water Sprite, but not just because it
is my only story. But because it would make a great movie! It is written in multiple POV so it would be easy to change over to a screenplay script.


How does your life experience influence your writing?
I enjoy nature and animals, and I feel like that is conveyed in the story. I also have a deep
sense of empathy, which I feel is a strong character trait, that I shared with the fictional characters in the book.


Do you try to keep your stories within their pre-determined genres, or do you just tell the story your way regardless of genre expectations?
I have only been reading for fun for a bit over two years, so I am sure I have some things
that aren’t exactly to genre expectations. I would have to say due to this fact, I write my way.


Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kinds? Does music influence your stories?
No. I find it hard to concentrate with more than the sounds of nature and my pets.


Have you ever written a story based on a personal experience you had? If so, what was it about?
Not yet. Though it does sound like a good idea to use personal experiences while
writing.


Do you let real-life events influence your work, or is there a ‘disconnect’ between your stories and world/national/local events?
My story is set in Earth of another dimension, so I would have to say there is a
disconnect in that aspect.


Is your writing time planned out or structured? Do you go on writing ‘benders’?
Definitely Benders. When the words flow, I get them out as best I can.


What to you is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?
The most rewarding aspect is the finished story. If people read and like it even better,
but I don’t expect the praise of it for myself. i would much rather they not know who wrote it specifically and just like the story itself for what it is.


Who is your favorite author, and why?
I don’t have a favorite author. I read a lot of different authors and they each have
different styles which I like. I would get very bored if I only read one all of the time. That being said I do enjoy the way Shel Silverstein has creativity in his poetry, the graphic descriptions of Steven King, and all of the Amazing Indie authors that write in the Reverse Harem Genre, there are such diverse stories and styles there is no way I could choose just one.


If you could pick anyone to narrate one of your books, who would it be?
I would have to choose two to cover the male and female voices. But aside from that I
really don’t know. I personally would give it a try if I could get the right program and microphone.


Which character of yours is your favorite? Why? Whom would you pick to play him/her/it in a movie?
Oh, well…that is like picking a favorite pet. They are all my favorite for different reasons.
Skyy because she is so Kind and innocent. Vale because he is intimidating in size, but that just means his heart is equally as big. Elio because of his determination and overbearing nature. Enlil for his playful attitude, and deep feelings. Morfran, because he is so good at being bad. Lastly Araminta because she is like every mother, aunt, and grandmother in a way.


Do you write when you take a vacation, or do you prefer to simply relax?
I only have staycations! But if I were to take an actual Vacation I would not write, I might
read … or I might not even do that.


Do you prefer to read fiction that’s similar to what you write, or do you pick different types of stories?
I personally have a very eclectic reading selection. I am a member of so many ARC Alpha
and Beta teams that I rarely choose a book to read anymore. I don’t mind that one bit either, since half the battle is choosing what to read next!


What’s one quirky thing about you that your readers might not know?
I am sure they haven’t had the chance to get to know me too well just yet. But anyone
who has a question for me is welcomed to ask. I don’t bite, unless you want me to.


What’s your favorite movie? Why?
My Favorites are The Princess Bride and The Labyrinth. I can recite them from memory
and word for word while watching. They are just what I grew up watching, and absolutely loved the story they portrayed. A third place runner up would be Spaceballs, because it is absolutely ridiculously hilarious! (V’s note: K. Rose has impeccable taste in movies!)


Do you set up events to meet your readers, or is your interaction with them strictly online?
I have attempted one live book signing, and I plan on doing more in the future. I just
don’t know where to start with signing up for them and all of that hot mess. Plus I should probably have more than one book published before I commit to them.


Have you ever had to exhaustively research something (say, history) for any of your books?
Not as of yet. But I have the type of personality that I would want to make sure there are
more things at one hundred percent correct than not.


What’s a question I haven’t asked that you’d like to answer?
I always find it fascinating that the majority of authors I ask say they do in fact talk in
their sleep. I personally didn’t start doing this until I started writing, and I haven’t figure out why either. But I think it is pretty cool that I share that affliction with other authors.
My Next project is already under way and will be a mash-up of Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and
Paranormal Reverse Harem. I hope the originality of the characters and the story line will be a breath of fresh air so to speak.

THANK you, K. Rose, for appearing today! It was an honor to host you!

K. Rose’s novel The Prophecy of the Water Sprite is available on Kindle Unlimited and in paperback. (Sorry, no link. Amazon’s links hijack my page, and then cause my computer to freeze due to fist-fighting with my security programs.)

You can also join her FaceBook group! https://www.facebook.com/groups/174766784549375

MEET JAN SELBOURNE!!!

Jan Selbourne has become one of my favorite authors. I first read her work in the anthology Desire Me Again, published by Black Velvet Seductions, in which her story A Convict’s Prayer appeared. She was also featured in Cowboy Desire, where her story The Long Paddock quickly won my award for ‘Best Ending’. She’s also the author of numerous full-length historical romances.

So without any further ado… JAN SELBOURNE!!!

BIO –

Jan Selbourne was born in Melbourne, Australia and her love of literature and history began as soon as she learned to read. After graduating from business college her career began in the dusty world of ledgers and accounting, working in Victoria, Queensland and the United Kingdom. On the point of retiring, she changed course to work as secretary of a large NSW historical society. Now retired, Jan is writing historical fiction. She has two adult children, a lovable dog and lives near Maitland, New South Wales.

When did you start writing? What made you first decide to try your hand at it?

I’ve always wanted to write but growing up, career, travel, marriage, children then back to career kept the urge on the back burner. When I retired it was time for me to get serious. I sat down ready to go and had no idea what to write about.  It was a small article in a magazine that gave me the inspiration for my first book.

What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?

Perilous Love, published in 2015, set in England and Belgium during the early days of World War One. Two people whose marriage is over are caught up in the invasion of Belgium, sparking WW1, however a lot of events in the story are based on fact.  It’s a special book for me.

How do you balance writing with your personal life?

I’m retired, my time is my own and I can write when ideas are jabbing at me and stop when I run out.

Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?

Not people I actually know – but a few of my baddies are based on some well-known unpleasant people.

Do family members or friends help with your writing? Your marketing?

My daughter’s ideas and opinions help me a lot. My newsletter partner Dee S. Knight’s help was invaluable while finishing the last chapters of The Woman Behind the Mirror.

Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?

Definitely. My fifth book, set in England and colonial New South Wales, Australia, is almost finished and ideas are niggling at me for the next story.  

Have you ever written non-fiction? If so, what?

A Convict’s Prayer, in the Desire Me Again anthology, is the true story of my Irish ancestor who was set up by her brother for stealing and transported to the harsh Van Diemen’s Land Penal colony (now Tasmania) Australia for fourteen years.  Her life was very hard but she gained her ticket of leave in less than seven years, which allowed her to marry again and apply for her son in Ireland to join her. (Virginia’s note: HIGHLY recommended tale!!!)

Are you a ‘normal’ person who likes to write, or do you consider yourself more of the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type?

Laughing.  Of course I’m normal, well, I think I am.  (Don’t ask my kids)

Do you drink? Why or why not?

Alcohol?  Yes, white wine.  Why?  Because I like it.

If you could see one of your stories made into a movie, which one would you pick and why?

Perilous Love. The idea for this story came from an article on how a person’s real character emerges when faced with extreme danger or life changing events.

BLURB –

In Perilous Love, Adrian and Gabrielle can barely stand the sight of each other until they are trapped in Belgium as war looms over Europe. Plunged into a nightmare of lies and betrayal, they flee for their lives as the German forces cross the border. Narrowly evading capture, witnessing death and atrocities, they discover more about each other and themselves than in the eight years of marriage. But the tentacles of treachery have spread to England where Adrian faces charges of treason and a woman who’ll stop at nothing to see him dead.

How does your life experience influence your writing?

I’m sure life experiences influence all writer’s scenes and characters.

Do you try to keep your stories within their pre-determined genres, or do you just tell the story your way regardless of genre expectations?

I write historical fiction and try to provide an accurate as possible background for that period in history. We can create our characters any way we want, good and bad, gorgeous and ugly, but we owe it to our readers not to throw our heroes and heroines into an era or situation and hope for the best.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kinds? Does music influence your stories?

I love music, lean to musical theater and classical but find it distracting when I write.

Do you let real-life events influence your work, or is there a ‘disconnect’ between your stories and world/national/local events?

The closest to real life events was Perilous Love.  My grandfather was in Belgium and France during WW1 and some of the dreadful events he witnessed are in the book.

Is your writing time planned out or structured? Do you go on writing ‘benders’?

Not structured at all.  I write when I can and stop writing when I’m running dry.

What to you is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?

Writing has been incredibly rewarding from holding my first book in my hand, the lovely reviews and comments on my books and meeting fantastic, talented authors.

Do you write when you take a vacation, or do you prefer to simply relax?

I write when I’m on vacation.

Do you prefer to read fiction that’s similar to what you write, or do you pick different types of stories?

I like variety, historical and contemporary.

What’s one quirky thing about you that your readers might not know?

I’m don’t think I have quirky habits—but don’t ask my kids.

Have you ever had to exhaustively research something (say, history) for any of your books?

Yes, writing historical stories requires research and I’ve found people and organizations very generous with their help. For instance, after visiting the Commonwealth War Graves in France, I asked London’s Imperial War Museum and the Australian War Memorial if it was possible for WW1 soldiers to swap identity tags with fallen comrades. Both replied yes it was possible but extremely unlikely because the chances of being caught very high and the penalties harsh (a hanging offense). Good enough for me to write The Proposition. (My character wasn’t caught).  I was a bit nervous contacting the prestigious Bank of England for information on banking in the 18th/19th centuries. The archivist was incredibly friendly and helpful, giving me confidence to include the bank in The Woman Behind the Mirror.   Research takes a lot of time but it’s worth it.

Perilous Love is available on Amazon.com (Sorry, no link. Amazon fights like hell to hijack my entire page, and then causes a computer freeze as it furiously battles my computer’s security settings.)

Jan Selbourne Author links:

Website: https://nomadauthors.com/JanSelbourne/index.html

Blog: http://nomadauthors.com/blog

Twitter: http://twitter.com/JanSelbourne

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jan.selbourne

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14661584.Jan_Selbourne?from_search=true

Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/h8t2y6

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jan-selbourne-2817b6140/

One Year in the Trenches: The Life of an Author

As of June 4th, I have been a traditionally-published author for an entire year.

That was one helluva a fateful email, lemme tell ya! After years of ‘Thank you for considering such-and-such publishing for your manuscript, but this is not the story we are looking for at this time,’ I finally hit the jackpot with ‘Congratulations on such a well-written romance novel!’

In hindsight, I suspect the only other phrase that alters someone’s life that much is ‘Congratulations! You’re pregnant.’ I wouldn’t know, though.

While I am new to being a traditionally-published author, I’m no stranger to seeing my work in print. I’ve been around the writing block more than a couple times, with all the headaches, hard work, and hiccups that go along with it. I thought that I had a grasp on things, that I knew what I was doing.

Yeah, right!

Shortly after getting that fateful email, I found myself sitting at my laptop being trained for ‘marketing detail’. Times have changed drastically for authors in the last few decades, mostly due to social media, which creates the ability—and therefore the need—for authors to be more visible, and the increased ease of self-publishing, which creates more competition. (NOTE: I myself was once an ‘indie’ author. I know and admire a great many self-published authors. I’m not bemoaning the fact that self-publishing has risen up to challenge the traditional publishing industry. I’m simply pointing out reality. Technology has changed the game for everyone.)

I managed to settle into a routine after a while. It felt very, very alien at first, because the change in my lifestyle was so sudden. But I got used to it, or at least I thought I did. I even got through the launch of Desire Me Again (an anthology featuring one of my stories) with flying colors. I was on a roll, or so I thought.

And then my full-length novel When the White Knight Falls launched…

It was then that I realized my new lifestyle was quickly becoming unsustainable. I couldn’t handle the workload, and I was exhausted. February of 2021 was a very rough month for me! I felt like I was going to crash. (If you’d like to know what a typical book launch looks like, read Anatomy of a Book Launch, the blog posted immediately below this one. It’s a minute-by-minute log of how mine went.)

So I asked myself, ‘what if you went back to the way things were before?’

I was absolutely aghast at the thought! Writers write so that people can read their stories. Period. Without readers, writing is an utter waste of time. I was overwhelmed and stressed out, true, but I was also exactly where I wanted to be.

So I paused, and re-assessed the situation…

The first thing I did was count my blessings. Gratitude is the antidote for discontent; this I learned very, very young. I had a publisher who believed in me. That’s HUGE!!! Some authors—ones far more talented than I—go their whole lives without finding a suitable publisher. Even better, Black Velvet Seductions is the most author-friendly romance publisher out there. Most publishers these days put it into their contracts that authors need to help with promotions. And that’s it. That’s all there is. A contractual requirement, but the ‘how’ of the matter is entirely on you.

That’s not BVS.

We have a training director, a wonderfully talented and patient fellow author who directs our promotional efforts and keeps all the authors working together as a team. She’s become one of my absolute favorite people, and I owe her a lot.

In addition to having a great publisher AND assistance with marketing, I was also blessed that my life experience has led me to this point. Some authors find themselves in print a mere few years after they start writing. That’s not me. I have decades of experience. I’m also computer-savvy, with a background in graphic design. (I didn’t realize how useful my PhotoShop skills were until I had to start cobbing up ads on a weekly basis.) Not only that, I spent years working as a sales-person; I read people well, which comes in handy when assessing one’s readers and target demographics.

Once I thought about all that I had going for me, I felt a twinge of guilt. Why was I so miserable and overwhelmed when I had so much working in my favor?

Because I’m human, that’s why. There are only so many hours in a day.

So I took a step back. What was I willing to do because it struck me as fun, and what did I need to escape because I hated it? I slowly but surely began the process of farming out the chores that were stressing me out (publishing assistants are WONDERFUL people!), and getting a better handle on managing my literary affairs.

I’m in a better place now. About the only thing I have to do that I can’t ‘sub out’ is author proofing, which I hate. But that just is what it is. At the end of the day, they’re my stories and it’s my job to go over the edited manuscripts with a magnifying glass, making sure they’re ready for print. Other’n that, I’m more or less back to behaving like a literary four-year-old, because for me that’s sustainable. I put in an average of thirty hours a week into my writing chores over and above my day job. If it’s fun, it isn’t work and it doesn’t stress me out. If I don’t like doing it, it wears me out and I start to hate my life.

So now I can focus on growing both my body of work and my reader base. It was a long year and a couple of months in Hell, but now I seem to be moving forward. I’m so excited to see what the future holds!

So what did I learn over the last year?

Ha! How much time do you have…?

#1 – Listen to your publisher and their marketing staff. If I knew everything, I wouldn’t need a publisher, would I? Sometimes you disagree with an editorial decision. Sometimes you don’t understand why you’re being asked to do something that you’d rather not. That’s how it goes. It’s funny, I have a pretty easy time with that one, but I know a lot of other authors who don’t. I think it’s because I’m lazy, honestly. If I just do exactly what I’m told, then it’s not my fault if it doesn’t work. Easy-peasy.

#2 – It ain’t always about you! Jesus said to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’. If God in the flesh said something is important, then I suppose it’s best to take His words at face value. Review others’ work when you can. Got a blog? Feature other authors. We’re all in this together. And we should always remember that ‘loving your neighbor’ is never a quid pro quo. It’s not about ‘hey, I’ll do this for you so now you gotta do that for me’. Rather, it’s about doing your part to foster a positive, helpful environment in which everyone can flourish.

#3 – Swallow your pride. ‘Pride goeth before a fall, and a haughty spirit before destruction’.  When it comes to writing books, ‘destruction’ might be too strong a word but ‘failure’ is definitely not. Sometimes you thought you had your I’s dotted and your T’s crossed, only to be rejected, or hit with a request to do re-writes. Some people say ‘you can’t win all time’. I say, the fuck you can’t! But not every victory is easily won. The Battle of Petersburg was a turkey shoot for the Confederates, but Normandy wasn’t so easy for the Allies. And that’s how it goes sometimes. Clinging to an over-inflated ego just makes everything that much harder.

#4 – Work with others.  Everyone has a different skill set. Some authors are aces at marketing, while others struggle with it. Others are fast and efficient writers, while others move more slowly. Some authors are good at graphics, while others struggle with them. Whatever your talents may be, bring them to the table so that you can assist others, and seek help from those who possess skills that you do not. A wise writer knows that we all either stand together, or we go into the ‘slush pile’ one by one.

#5 – Mind your graphics. In a social-media driven world, graphics are everything! A spiffy book ad catches the eye in ways that even a blurb does not. If you’re good at PhotoShop, wonderful! If you’re not, find a way around the deficiency. I’m always deeply appreciative when someone sends me a copyright-free image that reminded them of one of my characters, and I always try to reciprocate. No, it’s not fair that now we have to be artists in addition to being authors. But that’s how it is.

#6 – If you hate doing something and you can afford to hire it out, do so. Odds are that none of us are getting rich anyway. In the meantime, the key is sustainability, not burnout. ‘Nuff said!

#7 – Love thy day job (if thou hast one). My day job is the backbone of my entire writing operation. It allows me the luxury of recruiting paid help when I need it. It allows me to keep my creative integrity, rather than simply chasing the next buck with my stories. It allows me a respite from writing—and yes, I do need one. I can only spend so long in my head before I feel myself slowly going insane. My day job funds my passion, and allows me to regularly engage the real world. I need it, and I give it the same care and attention that I do my writing.

#8 – Love thy reader. It is so tempting to insert one’s own opinions into stories, like some dipshit actor spewing political bilge while they’re accepting an award they earned by entertaining people. Don’t. That alienates readers, and it’s not worth it. Watch your reviews, zero in on your demographic, and give ‘em what they want. Having readers is a blessing, and we should never lose sight of that fact.

#9 – Think of your work as a calling. My writing took off in 2020. Contrary to popular belief, that was not the worst year in American history. But it wasn’t a good one, either.

I have a policy of never commenting on social issues, but sometimes you just have to point out the obvious: Never have I witnessed such un-bridled Fascism as I’ve seen recently. Never did I imagine that governments would write themselves the authority to put entire populations under house arrest. Never did I imagine that political leaders would high-handedly order lawfully-operating businesses to close, stripping legions of workers of their livelihoods. Never have I seen houses of worship ordered to close. That brazen tyranny led to a catastrophic rise in depression, suicides, addictions, spiritual malaise, and poor mental health in general.

My point is this: while the over-arching solution is to follow God and His teachings, people in the meantime need a break! A sedative, if you would. Authors are more important now than they ever were. As our world begins to crumble—as it periodically does, because all social orders rise and fall—storytellers become an invaluable source of comfort and encouragement. The Roman Empire rose and fell, and now it’s gone. The Hellenistic world is no more…

But what they left behind were their stories. We still have those. They survived even the iron fists of history, and social change.

We are the ones who write those stories. We matter.

Never forget that…

Cheers! – V

CONNECT WITH ME ONLINE:

https://linktr.ee/VK_Wallace1378

Callie Carmen’s ‘Michael’: Review and Author Interview!

Olivia had spent enough time on memories of her ex-boyfriend’s abuse. She was going to put all of her efforts into her new business career. And try to convince her boss, Vice President Michael Evans, that the woman he’d been dating was nothing more than an opportunist and that she’d climb into bed with anyone that could get her to the top. 

Michael, who lost his younger sister to an abusive relationship, was falling in love with Olivia. He kept his distance from her and waited patiently for a sign that she was ready for his love.

Michael is the sixth and last novel in the Risking Love series. The stories chart a group of friends through life and love. These steamy stories will have you laughing, crying, and your heart racing.

Blurb from Callie Carmen’s Michael

It’s FINALLY the release day for Michael, the grand finale of Callie Carmen’s Risking Love series!

It may shock you, my dear readers, to learn that I don’t often read contemporary romances. Oh, I do love me some heart-wrenching stories, now, being a romance writer and all. But I tend to lean toward fantasy, sci-fi, and darker stories. So it’s high praise when I tell you that I have always found Callie Carmen’s writing to be captivating. It’s powerful enough to pull me out of my blackened little fantasy bubble, and that’s saying something.

Callie writes in the first-person tense, and alternates between the hero and the heroine’s respective points of view. It’s a very clever way of telling a story, because while first person creates more intimacy than third, it can also limit the scope of the story. Using dual narratives fleshes out different aspects of the tale, making it more complete than it would otherwise be.

Another earmark of Callie’s writing is her leading men. They are amazingly complex, and very life-like. Her heroines are also complex and engaging, but hey, let’s face it: Risking Love was custom-tailored for the ladies. (I mean, seriously, check out the covers!) From the assertive Patrick to the reticent Anthony to the smart-yet-somewhat-clueless Joshua, Callie’s cast of male leads makes for great storytelling.

And now there’s Michael…

Michael’s a corporate exec. He’s smooth, suave, handsome, and possesses an uncanny ability to read the people around him. He’s also the perfect gentleman, with a courteously deferential way of treating women that’s very endearing. It’s obvious from the opening chapters that lovely Olivia is head-over-heels for him. There’s just one problem. Well, two, actually…

The first is Veronica, the conniving ‘dragon lady’. She’s cold, ambitious, and a rather daunting romantic rival.

The second is Braylon, Olivia’s stalker.

Those twin threads of suspense—the personal angst, combined with the element of danger—make Michael an absolute page-turner. It’s a worthy ending to the series that began with the explosive Patrick, and I suspect that many readers will be sad that the ride has finally come to an end. I know I am.

But that means we get to look forward to whatever comes next!

Michael, by the amazing Callie Carmen. Check it OUT!

BIO

Callie Carmen is a tormented artist who drinks way, way too much! Fueled by a steady diet of booze, caffeine, heavy metal music, and horror films, Callie is often so addled that she doesn’t even know what day it is. She’s also prone to mixing up her days and nights, and is more than a little obsessive/compul…

Uh… Hold on… Waitaminit…

Dammit, that’s MY bio! Sorry, y’all. My bad. Lemme just open the correct file, here… just a sec… Okay, here we go!

Callie started in the book business as a bookstore manager which was the perfect place for her since she was an avid reader. After two years, she moved to the corporate office as a buyer and eventually became a senior book buyer. This was a rewarding career that she loved.

Along the way, Callie became a stay home Mom but couldn’t give up working around books altogether. She volunteered to run the book fairs in her small farm town. At the same time, Callie started and ran, A Child Oasis Company, with the sole purpose of placing a small book library in the homes of all the needy children in the nearby city.

As her children became teens, Callie found she needed more in her personal life than the volunteer Mom for the schools. She sat down at the computer and began to write. To see what she’s been up to go to Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07BN5PXDF

INTERVIEW

What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?

Enemy That I Know, a mobster romance as part of the Craving Loyalty Anthology. It is a wonderful book. My story takes place in the nightclub my grandfather had owned. It was my first attempt at a short story and at the time I found it difficult to tell an entire love story in 10,000 words. If I had a larger word count, I would have included the rescue battle scene. With that said, I think it’s a passionate second chance at love tale and I’m proud of being able to accomplish it. Since then I’m been working with a different publisher, Black Velvet Seductions and have learned a great deal working with their staff.  

Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?

Yes. I’m a firm believer that you need to watch what you say or do in front of an author or you may end up as a character in their next novel. Each of my stories includes the personality of at least one person who I know well, or even a casual acquaintance. Like my five college friends, that appear in my Risking Love series.

Do family members or friends help with your writing? Your marketing?

They don’t help with my marketing, but they come up with some great villain ideas like the serial killer in my novel Patrick. My husband reminded me of a rather disturbing date I had gone on with a man when I was in my twenties. The man had given me a serial killer vibe. He was a perfect role model for the serial killer that was after Jaq in Patrick. Or my friend’s creepy ex-boyfriend was the perfect person to be my muse for Olivia’s betraying ex-boyfriend from my latest novel Michael.

Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?

Yes, I keep toying with writing a Greek Family Series. It would feature the sexy brothers and cousin of Nicolas, from book two in my Risking Love series. Especially Damon. So many women that read that novel wanted to date him. My own daughter put dibs on being Damon’s love interest. Lol. I’m also working on an alien love story for the upcoming Dark Desire Anthology from BVS coming in 2022.

Is there a story you’re afraid to write? Why?

I could never write a BDSM story. I know nothing about that type of relationship, and I think one should do their research on the subject before attempting to write about it. To me those that write BDSM have a responsibility to the reader to get it right. There are a few BVS authors that write that genre well.

Are you a ‘normal’ person who likes to write, or do you consider yourself more of the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type?

I would not do well as a person who is a tormented artist. I attempt to be a cheerful person who lets pain roll off my back after a few minutes.

Do you drink? Why or why not?

I have a jumbo frozen margarita with I go out to the Mexican Restaurant. And at Christmas when I’m with my entire family in upstate New York I have a fancy drink with them all.

What’s your favorite movie? Why?

There are too many to name them all, but I’ll mention a few. As far as a children’s movie goes it was always the Disney original version of Cinderella. That movie and my mother’s teachings about being kind to others, even the bully stayed with me. My mother would say, “You never know what’s going on in their life to make them act that way.” It has always worked for me in my life. Later it was the movie Ever After, which is an adult version of Cinderella. I love how she continued to show her kindness, but also her wisdom, strength, and passion for the man she loved. Other than that I have a long list of fantasy or science fiction movie that I love so I’ll only name a few: The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Trek, etc.  

Have you ever had to exhaustively research something (say, history) for any of your books?

I’ve had to do research for each of my stories, from the history of dream catchers to the world of rodeo life on the road. However, you did say exhaustively so hold on to your hat.
When I first started writing love making scenes, I wanted to be accurate how men felt when they made love. So I grilled my husband, and that got me nowhere as he didn’t want to discuss it.
So I hit the internet. I read first-hand accounts from many men describing the physical aspects of sex. What it does to their body, how it feels before, during, and after the big moment. Many of them also got into the emotions of making love, too. I took all of that information in.I found that even though no two people are the same, there were several common things that went on for men while making love. I had what I needed to make my passionate scenes realistic.

Thanks for gracing our pages today, Callie! It was an honor to host you, and here’s wishing you all the best in the future! – V

How can we stalk you?

Social Media Links

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011326206882

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/CallieCarmenAuthor/

Twitter

Search Twitter for Callie_Carmen (Sorry, the link hijacked my page)

Amazon

https://amazon.com/-/e/B07BN5PXDF

Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC884L9_4lE3Mclj6yNmMZkg

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/calliecarmennovel/

MeWe

https://mewe.com/profile/5aea84c00dc9f110e68a9373

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17829431.Callie_Carmen

Linkedin

https://www.linkedin.com/in/callie-carmen-72ba98156/

Tumblr

https://calliecarmenauthor.tumblr.com/

Pinterest

Search for calliecarmennovel (another link hijack with this one)

Website

https://www.calliecarmen.com/

BookBub

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/callie-carmen

Meet Niki Trento!

My friend and fellow author Niki Trento is the creator of the ‘Seasons of the Wolf’ paranormal romance series. The latest book in the series, ‘Spring of the Omega’, was released recently.

The blurb and links to buy are available after the interview. Take it AWAY, Niki!

When did you start writing? What made you first decide to try your hand at it?

I initially began writing (bad poetry) when I was in my early teens. It had been a dream of mine to be the next Stephen King. However, I never had the patience to write more than a couple of pages. When I was in my late 30’s I decided to write a shifter romance novel. Two years later, I was talked into releasing it.

What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?

My first book baby was Summer of the Alpha. I released him on my 40th birthday. Although I still love the story, it is a bit on the soft side compared to the ones that followed.

How do you balance writing with your personal life?

I’m a stay-at-home mom with teenagers. When they aren’t at school, they do their own thing and I do mine. I write when I can, when the inspiration strikes, or when I’m bored.

Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?

Oh, yes!! In the Seasons of the Wolf series, there are aspects of some of the characters that bleed over from my real-life people. I also have characters sprinkled around who’s names are versions of my support team.

Do family members or friends help with your writing? Your marketing?

To a degree, my brother will retweet some things. I have friends in the writing community that are sounding boards and help when I’m stuck. They are often referred to as my Trifecta, the Devil on my shoulder, and the Demon under my bed in my dedications.

Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?

Loads of stories dance around in my head. I have some that are in the works right now, and some that are planned.

Is there a story you’re afraid to write for some reason? Why?

My autobiography! Haha!  Seriously though, I have plans for a reverse harem that I am a little hesitant to write as all of mine so far are not rh. However, I am getting over that by making the first in my next series RH. The reason reverse harem is a bit daunting for me to write is because there are so many incredible authors out there. The way they write the…steamy scenes…are pretty believable. I’m not sure I can measure up, but I am going to try anyway.

Do you ever target differing age groups or demographics with your writing?

Definitely 18+.

Have you ever written non-fiction? If so, what?

Only for school projects.

Are you a ‘normal’ person who likes to write, or do you consider yourself more of the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type?

Honestly, it depends. There are certain scenes or storylines that I write that require me to dig deep down into my darkness. Overall, aside from being a bit weird, I am a ‘normal’ person. (Virginia’s note: Everyone answers ‘normal’. They’re often fibbing. Just sayin’…)

Do you drink? Why or why not?

Nope. I had my fun in my early 20s, but except for an occasional wine cooler, I don’t have the desire.

Are you married? How does being a writer affect that? Has your marriage affected the way you write love stories?

I have been with my mister for nearly 20 years. He is fully supportive of my writing. I would say that all of my relationships affect the way I write love stories. Of course, my mister is the epitome of ‘fated mate’ in my life.

If you could see one of your stories made into a movie, which one would you pick and why?

Oh! I would LOVE to see Seasons of the Wolf made into a movie! Shifters, drama, love, magic? Yes, please!

How does your life experience influence your writing?

I didn’t have a glitter and rainbows life. I’ve seen darkness, death, hatred. However, I’ve also seen love, light, and happiness. All of those things are in my writing, without a doubt.

Do you try to keep your stories within their pre-determined genres, or do you just tell the story your way regardless of genre expectations?

I don’t really think too much about it, honestly.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kinds? Does music influence your stories?

Sometimes. I really have found that listening to Celtic music gets my blood pumping while writing. I like to sing (even if it’s done badly) when listening to music, so having something with lyrics going messes with my writing. I’ve caught myself typing lyrics instead of what I intended a couple of times. I wouldn’t say that it influences the story. I know a lot of authors who legit have playlists that go with their books, but I am just not that talented. Haha

Have you ever written a story based on a personal experience you had? If so, what was it about?

Like I’ve said before, my real life tends to bleed into my stories to some degree. For example: the relationship between some of my shifters and their fathers. Mine passed when I was almost eleven years old, so I tend to have a soft spot for that relationship.

Do you let real-life events influence your work, or is there a ‘disconnect’ between your stories and world/national/local events?

I have mentioned some things from the real world in my stories. References to Harry Potter movies, Punky Brewster, and even books from fellow indie authors!

Is your writing time planned out or structured? Do you go on writing ‘benders’?

What is this planning and structure you speak of?? (Virginia’s note: Fuck if I know…)

What to you is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?

People enjoying my imagination. Hands down. When someone says to me, “I love your books!” or “I need more Axel!” then I know my job is done. Or rather, just beginning!

Who is your favorite author, and why?

That isn’t fair! As I mentioned, I’ve always been a fan of Stephen King. As I got older, though, my library has broadened. I adore Angela Roquet, Kory Shrum, Patricia Briggs, Kevin Hearne, and all my amazing indie author friends.

If you could pick anyone to narrate one of your books, who would it be?

Sam Elliott. I don’t care, that voice is just everything!

Which character of yours is your favorite? Why? Whom would you pick to play him/her/it in a movie?

Promise not to tell the others? Barin and Axel are my top favorites. Barin was inspired by Brock O’Hurn, so he would have to play my alpha. Axel…I would have to look into that. In my mind, he is an Italian with blue eyes…

Do you write when you take a vacation, or do you prefer to simply relax?

Vacation? Another of those words that is not in my vocabulary. Writing is relaxing to me, so I probably would write on vacation.

Do you prefer to read fiction that’s similar to what you write, or do you pick different types of stories?

I try not to read wolf shifter books often while I am writing so as not to be influenced. I love just about anything paranormal, so that’s the stuff I tend to read.

What’s one quirky thing about you that your readers might not know?

I am a packrat. I’ve gotten better, but I will never throw away the three inch gummy bear that I bought the year my son was born.

What’s your favorite movie? Why?

Another tough question! Gosh…okay, I love the Harry Potter movies, Disney movies, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and The Blind Side. Back to the Future, Frequency, League of Their Own…the list really is long. I love movies that make me cry. I told you I was weird               

Do you set up events to meet your readers, or is your interaction with them strictly online?

 I’m an online personality. Lol Maybe some day it would be cool to meet up with readers though.

Have you ever had to exhaustively research something (say, history) for any of your books?

I’ve done research on wolves and other animals and how they compare to humans. For example: gestation periods, running speed, etc.

What’s a question I haven’t asked that you’d like to answer?

Yes, I would like the winning lottery numbers! (Virginia’s note: BEST answer I’ve gotten to that question thus far!!!)

THANK you for gracing virginiawallace.com with your presence, Niki! I’m honored to host you. Here, my dear readers, is the blurb for Niki’s latest literary masterpiece:

They say when you’re at the bottom, you can only go up. But when you are the omega, is that really true?

Cash is an omega, and his Mother never let him—or anyone—forget it. He had one job under her rule, to gather intel from other packs. Until one day when he left and never returned after finding his way into the heart of the Silver Lake Pack, always looking over his shoulder and counting the seconds until he had to run again.

Pandora lived on the streets after she discovered her foster parents hunted her kind. Shifters. Thankfully, they didn’t know what she was.  Her life changed for the better when she found her place with the family that is Silver Lake Pack.

When both Cash’s and Pandora’s pasts collide, will they both go on the run again? Or will they make a home for themselves with the Silver Lake Pack?

Niki’s latest book can be purchased here:

https://books2read.com/u/mZekrR

And y’all can stalk Niki here:

linktr.ee/nikitrentoauthor

THANKS again, Niki, for appearing today!

‘Secret Love’, by F. Burn: A Review and Author Interview

Secret Love, by F. Burn…

Francesca Gabel, a learning support assistant, accepts a post at a prestigious Catholic boys’ school. She manages to form a bond with a challenging student named Richard Cunningham, but the lines begin to blur as they become closer. Francesca experiences an internal struggle as she grapples to control her feelings. The passion they develop for one another consumes them as they enter a world of forbidden love and desire. Is it true love or a simple case of lust? Francesca must make a decision: give in to Richard and face the consequences or let him go.

You read about teachers developing inappropriate relationships with pupils and you wonder how it all happened. At what point did they finally decide to cross that line? Whose fault was it? Ultimately the responsibility lies with the adult they say, but when is the student considered an adult? You imagine yourself in that position and you tell yourself that you would never do that, but I found myself in an impossible situation.

Why I seemed to enjoy this destructive need, this obsession, I didn’t know. Maybe we all had it inside of us… Lines from F. Burn’s Secret Love

Everyone knows that Virginia Wallace is an incorrigible pest. I am absolutely notorious for badgering my co-workers out of un-released manuscripts! If a book catches my eye, I’m just like, ‘gimme’! And no, I’m not a paid reviewer, or even an amateur one for that matter. I just love to read, and I am smugly pleased to have access to amazing stories that haven’t been made available to the general public yet.

Fortunately, F. Burn was kind enough to lend me hers, the manuscript for her novel entitled Secret Love. Two words caught my attention when her book was described by my publisher, Ric Savage: ‘Dark’, and ‘poetic’.

She had me at ‘dark’, but ‘poetic’ to boot? WOW!!!

Secret Love could be described as a ‘taboo’ story, and in some sense I suppose it is. It’s the story of a female teacher who falls hard for a male student. It’s no secret that I have a fairly conservative view of relationships and sexuality (I’ve been panned in reviews for that), but this book fascinated me nevertheless. For starters, F. Burn is very careful to make no moral commentary whatsoever upon her character’s actions. Right, wrong, or otherwise, this story is happening… and yes, this kinda stuff does happen.

I loved the moral ambiguity of the tale. Was it wrong for Francesca to fall for Ritchie? It wasn’t like he was a kid, after all. Younger, perhaps, but certainly not a child. But then, many would say it’s always wrong for a teacher to fall for a student. On the other hand, attraction kinda happens even against our will, doesn’t it?

At the end of the day, this story just is what it is. I recommend simply reading it as such, and leaving it at that.

I loved that Francesca was lovely in her own way (as romance novel heroines generally are), but she does describe some self-perceived ‘flaws’ in her appearance, which makes her very relatable. The first-person narrative tense makes the story even more intimate. I loved that Ritchie only weighs in on his own tale at the very end, giving the story a very, very powerful next-to-last chapter.

And I have to say that this is one thing that makes F. Burn’s novel really shine. First-person narrative is a deal with the Devil. It gives one a deeper look into a character’s thoughts than third-person, but at the same time it’s limiting because the reader is forced to view the story entirely through the characters’ lenses. There’s no all-present, omniscient narrator.

It’s hard to be ‘poetic’ when one is writing in the first-person tense. First-person tends to come across as rather matter-of-fact, even though it’s often entertaining. Only three novels narrated in first-person come to mind that I would describe as ‘poetic’: Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel. (My Cousin Rachel, by the way, had a similar ‘taboo’ theme to Secret Love.)

Now I’m gonna say four novels. Secret Love just joined the list.

I also loved that the story was defined by a strong sense of restraint on the part of the heroine. Relationships require restraint. Bonds easily forged are bonds easily broken. Creating a lasting relationship requires saying ‘no’ for a long time. Introducing sex too early leads to a selfish satisfying of desire at the expense of truly bonding with another person on an emotional level. I’m not overly fond of stories in which the hero and heroine jump right into bed, and then suddenly realize they’ve found true love and live happily ever after. Life just doesn’t work that way, you know? I certainly don’t write that way. (And yah, I’ve been panned for that, too.) Level-headed people know when to set passion on a back burner in order to build something better, and I loved that trait in both the fictitious Francesca and the real-life imagination of F. Burn.

This book gets an honest five stars from me. Some readers might be uncomfortable with the subject matter, and if that’s you then I suppose I understand.

But this book doesn’t condemn its own subject matter, and neither does it condone it.

It just is what it is.

So if you’re feeling adventurous—if your own comfort zone is starting to feel a bit stifling—check it OUT!!! Secret Love, by the amazingly talented F. Burn.

An Interview with F. Burn

When did you start writing? What made you first decide to try your hand at it?

I first started writing in my teens. I started off writing poetry to express how I felt. Some people described it as dark poetry.

What was your first published work? What do you think of it now?

Some of my poetry was published in anthologies.

How do you balance writing with your personal life?

It’s really hard, but I try to do bits during the week and weekends.

Do people you actually know make appearances in your stories?

Yes, I based a character from my upcoming novel, Secret Love, on my ex.

Do family members or friends help with your writing?

They’ve helped me by being supportive, giving constructive feedback and providing inspiration for my characters.

Do you have stories you want to write that you haven’t yet?

Yes, I have quite a few ideas running around in my head. I am planning a sequel for Secret Love, but it seems to be taking a darker route.

Is there a story you’re afraid to write for some reason? Why?

The sequel of Secret Love. The main character discovers a side to her lover that scares her. There is a thin line between pleasure and pain.

Do you ever target differing age groups or demographics with your writing?

I have a fairly wide target demographic, ranging from age 20-60+

Have you ever written non-fiction? If so, what?

The first book I wrote was a non-fiction piece on astronomy when I was a child.

Are you a ‘normal’ person who likes to write, or do you consider yourself more of the tormented/driven ‘artist’ type?

I guess I am fairly normal, but with a dark side. That dark side is expressed through writing, art and music.

Are you married? How does being a writer affect that? Has your marriage affected the way you write love stories?

I’m not married, but I’m in a committed relationship with my soulmate and best friend. When I met him, I realised that the kind of love which is described in poetry and songs actually existed.

If you could see one of your stories made into a movie, which one would you pick and why?

I would like my novel, Secret Love, to be made into a movie. It reminds me of a movie called ‘Notes on a Scandal‘ which is also about a female teacher engaging in an affair with a student. Though my story focuses more on the teacher’s assistant and is more than just purely physical.

How does your life experience influence your writing?

All my experiences growing up and work experiences have influenced my writing. I am also influenced by some of my favourite movies, music and novels.

Do you try to keep your stories within their pre-determined genres, or do you just tell the story your way regardless of genre expectations?

I definitely just tell the story. Genre can be decided later.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kinds? Does music influence your stories?

Not usually, but I occasionally listen to instrumental music when I write.

Have you ever written a story based on a personal experience you had? If so, what was it about?

Not yet, but I considered writing about the experiences of a relative with a serious mental illness and a friend with Asperger’s. I wanted to tackle the stigma and the stereotypes associated with it.

Is your writing time planned out or structured? Do you go on writing ‘benders’?

Sometimes I go by a rough plan, but sometimes I write and see where the story takes me.

What to you is the most rewarding aspect of being a writer?

Reading the finished product and feeling a sense of achievement.

Who is your favorite author, and why?

I have so many favourite authors, but one of my favourite books of all time is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.(Virginia’s Note: I KNEW I loved F. Burn!!!)

Which character of yours is your favorite? Why? Whom would you pick to play him/her/it in a movie?

My favourite character is Ritchie from Secret Love, because he is a complex individual with needs. I would pick a young Jonathan Scarfe to play him.

Do you prefer to read fiction that’s similar to what you write, or do you pick different types of stories?

I usually read horror, science-fiction, dystopian and non-fiction.

What’s one quirky thing about you that your readers might not know?

I am also an artist, who dabbles in song writing, making jewellery, astrology and photography.

What’s your favorite movie? Why?

One of my favourite movies is Alien. I love the design of the alien by H.R. Giger and how the alien is a deadly parasite that gestates inside of a human host.

THANK you so much, F. Burn, for appearing on virginiawallace.com!!! Here’s wishing you a bright future, and CONGRATULATIONS on the release of Secret Love!!!

Secret Love is NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon.com!!! Just go to to Amazon.com and paste this into the search box: Secret Love F Burn Black Velvet Seductions (I’d post the link, but Amazon hacks the hell out of your page and overwhelms your entire post.)

Connect with F. Burn on Face Book here: https://www.facebook.com/fburn.co.uk

‘Dear Dictator’: A Review

Didja ever see a movie that just blew your freakin’ mind?

What I like best is when you pull a movie out of the bin at the dollar-store, buy it because it was cheap, watch it because you’re mildly curious… and THEN it blows your mind! That’s even better than falling in love with some big-budget blockbuster, because you kinda see those coming.

I, however, am particularly fond of the amazing film that I didn’t see coming!

So, last week I stumbled across a dollar-store DVD entitled Dear Dictator. It stars Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, and a young lady named Odeya Rush who turned out to be fantastic. Talk about a lightning bolt out of a clear blue sky!

That movie got an immediate five stars from me.

The story goes like this: Teen-aged Tatiana is the daughter of a single mother, and she fancies herself a bit of a rebel. In one of her classes, she’s asked to write a letter to a public figure in the hopes of getting a response. Going for the shock value, she decides to write one General Anton Vincent, the tin-pot dictator of a small Caribbean nation.

Oddly enough, the two become pen pals. It seems that Vincent relates to the troubled Tatiana, as his country is in a state of turmoil and and his people are ready to overthrow him… which of course, they do. So General Anton heads for the only American address that might actually prove to be friendly territory: Tatiana’s house.

The story proceeds from there, and of course I won’t drop any spoilers.

What floored me was the complexity of the relationships between the characters, combined with the profound social commentary. And when I say ‘social’, I don’t mean ‘political’. Anton Vincent is a pragmatist; he is less interested in shifting political winds than he is the immutable traits of humanity, traits which a clever revolutionary can use to manipulate entire societies. There’s a wonderful scene in which he illustrates Machiavelli’s ‘rules for revolution’, using a box of Tatiana’s old dolls and action figures from the garage.

What fascinates me about Anton is this: He’s almost certainly a Communist, which many viewers would find offensive. But the film doesn’t dwell on that, because it’s not important. What is important is how well Anton reads people, and uses his observations to serve his own ends.

Anton is not a particularly good man, nor a particularly bad one. He—like most world leaders—is simply a product of his times, his upbringing, and his environment. The writers just told his story without attempting to cast any judgment upon his character. What is so endearing about him is how deeply he obviously cares about Tatiana. He has a daughter about her age, and it’s doubtful that he was the best father. The viewer almost gets the impression that Anton views Tatiana as his ‘second chance’, his opportunity to do right by a young girl in a way that he didn’t the first time around.

He guides her, teaches her, and expresses pride in her as Tatiana learns to apply his revolutionary tactics against the bullies that endlessly torment her at school. I LOVED it when he told her ‘and that is how you pull off your coup d’éTatiana!’

Dear Dictator. An absolute stroke of genius, and all for a mere buck. I dunno know if it’s on DisneyFlicks or NetPlus or whatever the new brain-candy network is, but if you happen to stumble across it…

You’ll wanna watch it! Not only is it a wonderfully heart-warming story, it also gives you a lot to think about. Which is probably why it wasn’t a huge hit; your average person just doesn’t do ‘thought-provoking’ these days. But if you’re one of the blessed few who does

Check it out! – V

(PS—You’ll also get to see Jason Biggs get water-boarded with a jug of milk. From humping cherry pies to getting drowned by Michael Caine, that poor feller has not had an easy career! Seriously…)

Romance and Horror…

There’s a TON of literature out there!!! Seriously, it’s enough to make one’s head spin. Fantasy, science fiction, non-fiction, historical…

But there are two genres that stand head and shoulders above all the others: Romance and Horror.

Why THOSE two?

The ancient Greeks had this idea that they called ‘Eros Thanatos’: Sex and Death. Sex gives life and Death takes it, and thus the two concepts are inextricably intertwined. Literature reflects this.

Romance is the world’s best-selling genre. I suspect that this is because humans instinctively know that the only hope for the future lies in ‘pairing up’, in creating a stable household within which one can usher in the next generation. Even in the absence of children, marriage is the foundational bedrock of any stable society. Without it, anarchy begins to creep in. As God Himself decreed, ‘Male and female created He them… Therefore a man shall leave his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ That, I think, is why the world’s best-selling genre revolves around concepts such as ‘soul mates’ and ‘true love’.

But why is Horror ever nipping at Romance’s stiletto heels?

Death—or the fear thereof—haunts humanity’s every waking thought, whether we want to admit it or not. There are a million ways to die, and horror stories reflect this. Honestly, I suspect that our fear of death eclipses even our need for love. In that sense, I kinda wonder why Horror is the ‘number two’ genre instead of the top dog.

The answer is simple. You can fall in love, get married, have sex, and tell about those experiences later. But you only get to die once, and then… well, it’s kinda too late to write about your ordeal, isn’t it? Death is just as much a reality as Love, but the difference is that there’s no going back after you croak. The stories you’re gonna write then will only ever be read by God.

Romance and Horror, Horror and Romance…

The popularity of those two genres speaks volumes about the human condition.