A Look at EM’s Words

As you may know, I am re-releasing the Neil Marshall mystery series that Ballantine marketed as cozy, culinary amateur sleuth mysteries. I ran across EM Kaplan and her husband JD last year on Twitter and we all hit it off. She joined in on some story hops and I was hooked on her quirky character, Josie Tucker, the food critique. With the release of my mysteries. I wanted to do an interview with some fellow mystery writers and immediately thought of EM Kaplan since hers books fall somewhat into a similar category as mine.

So, let’s get to know her  little better.


  1. You describe yourself as a former wannabe spy, trombonist, toilet-cleaner, beginner ninja, and subversive marketer. Tell me about your writing process. How much of your former selves make their way into your writing?

“In a perfect world, I’d be using words like “heuristic,” “organic,” and “ecosystem” to describe the way I try to blend my real-world experiences into my fiction. Instead my writing process is more like absolute chaos, punctuated by brief interruptions of “CAN YOU HOLD MY BURRITO” and “THESE AREN’T MY SHORTS.” I don’t suffer from ADHD, but my life does. I have a 9-to-5 job and a family, and I teach a couple of classes at the local gym. I’d actually love to see what happens to my writing when I simplify some of that.”

  1. Your husband JD is a writer, and he’s produced some of your trailers, which are quite good I might add. As you know, Valerie also writes, and I’m frequently asking her if she knows how much I hate her (usually right after she’s handed back a manuscript bleeding with red ink). In all fairness, she makes my work stronger. What is it like for you living in a literary family? Where do you find commonalities? Dissonance?

“The biggest problem JD and I have as writers is that neither of us wants to keep a day job. We both need patrons. Or a grant. Or private funding. Because that lottery retirement plan hasn’t panned out yet, if you know what I mean.

“A few people have asked if JD and I are planning on writing a book together someday. I think we’re too different, too creatively strong-willed to make it work. Neither of us is confrontational, so it would probably turn into a battle of confused squints and furrowed eyebrows of disbelief.”

  1. Nearly all my books take place in or around Houston, where I’ve lived for thirty-five years. How much does the place or places where you live play into your books?

“Each of the main locations in the Josie Tucker books has been a place where I’ve lived. Arizona, California, Massachusetts—and even the next one, which will be near Austin, TX. I recently went back to Tucson for the first time in about twenty years. Holy nuts, that place has changed. While my memories are strong and vivid, that old saying about not being able to go home again is so, so true. In a weird way, I’ve fictionalized these places just as much as if I’d completely made them up.”

  1. You were an English major and a technical writer. I recently read one of your blogs dedicated to hating the word “moist” and some other interesting words as well. Besides those particular words, what literary topics bore or offend you?

“I don’t actually hate the word “moist,” but a lot of people do. I used to have synesthesia—it’s a bit different for everyone, but, I used to see words as colors. Like the word “thought” is the color brown for me. The number two is blue. The tendency mostly faded over time. Maybe it was a memorization technique when I was little—but I don’t hate words because they’re tools for building things. I do, however, avoid talking about politics, which is tough this year. Everything else is fair game.”

  1. We met on Twitter, and two of your posts are about Twitter (“Freaky Tweets” had me falling on the floor laughing). You have a delightfully dry and quirky sense of humor. It also seems to flow naturally, which is a rare gift. How does humor play into your work? Do you ever find yourself holding back because it’s just not the right time for a quip?

“I don’t intentionally set out to be funny, but I do like making people laugh. It’s kind of a weird distinction. I don’t want to make people roll on the floor in a Robin Williams frenetic way, but I do, like a dinner party hostess, want to see everyone having a good time. Noshing on the cheeseball appetizers, so to speak.”

  1. You also did a very insightful blog on marketing. I hate marketing, but you have a great handle on it. What is your favorite marketing tool? The most effective? And what do you just plain hate?

“I seriously have no idea what I’m doing. No. Idea. I mean, I listen to advice from other people who seem to have a handle on it, but I make mistakes like other people. The thing that works the best in my favor is actually my desk job. Because I’m sitting at work all day long, I can have my other computer next to me so I can see what’s going on and monitor my accounts and promo attempts. Any time devoted to marketing is time taken away from writing, though, so it’s a balancing act. It’s so easy to do too much of one or the other.

“Facebook is the easiest for me to use. I had to create an account for my day job a few years ago, so I’ve been on it a while. My newsletter has been the most effective method of communicating with readers so far.”

  1. Finally, a big congratulation is in order. You just released the 3rd book in your Josie Tucker Mysteries, which you describe as “un-cozy and un-culinary.” I love that characterization and it’s what first drew me to your work. (In part because I thought you were the opposite of me, but now I’m not so sure. . . .) What prompted you to describe a food critic and amateur sleuth as un-cozy and un-culinary?

“Thanks! Yes, Dead Man on Campus is the 3rd Josie Tucker book. Between the mysteries, I wrote two books of an epic fantasy trilogy called Unmasked and Unbroken. Some of my readers who have read both my fantasy and mystery books have been surprised at the contrast—completely different writing styles although I think some humor sneaks through the fantasy in places.

“I call the Josie books un-culinary and un-cozy because those are real categories in bookstore mystery shelves—well, culinary and cozy are. If you’re not familiar with them, culinary mysteries involve food, cooking, restaurants, or bakeries. While Josie is a food critic, her testy stomach often keeps her from eating. She has a love/hate relationship with food sometimes. Cozy mysteries are more like the old Miss Marple Agatha Christie stories—no sex, no gore, no violence. They’re more focused on the puzzle and the clues of the whodunit. Josie Tucker mysteries—especially The Bride Wore Dead—are a bit grittier than those. Not a lot, but enough to straddle the line, I think.”

I like it EM! I think I’ll categorize my books as un-cozy and semi-culinary, too! Thank you very much for taking the time to chat with me!

Since Dim Sum, Dead Sum is on sale-only .99 until October 2nd-let’s look at her awesome trailer—Just click on the image:


Click on any of the images to see the Josie Tucker Mysteries on Amazon ~








Or buy all three in one great package:


Keep abreast of all of EM’s promotions, sales and new releases by checking out her newsletter

Connect with EM on social media on her Website/blog, Facebook, TwitterAmazon, Goodreads, and by Email.

Indie Pride

I’ve been involved in the Indie Author scene for over two years now. During that time I’ve met some wonderful people and talented writers. To celebrate Indie Pride Day I’d like to highlight three of those fine authors—K.K. Allen, Chess Desalls, and C.L. Schneider—three sirens of words who will draw you deep into the shores of their worlds. Read them. You’ll love them as much as I do!

K.K. Allen



K.K. Allen is the author of Contemporary Fantasy and New Adult Romance stories. She loves manatees, learned to swim for the mere purpose of pretending she was a mermaid, and adores the beach so much she promises to one day live on one (in a tent if she has to) in Hawaii and serve shaved ice on the side of the road.



In the Summer Solstice trilogy, is a  realistic story that incorporats supernatural elements in a unique way, to entertain readers with a bit of suspense, a progressive romance, and an exciting new mythology.


On Indie Pride Day the Summer Solstice series (The Summer Solstice Enchanted, The Equinox, and The Descendants) is now available as a complete trilogy—a great deal at only 6.99!

TreeHouse Amazon




Her upcoming New Adult Romance UP IN THE TREEHOUSE, IS SET TO RELEASE ON JULY 19, 2016.




Aren’t these great teasers?

Her short story, Soaring, is available for FREE on Amazon

Buy KK’s book’s HERE

You can connect with K.K. on her website, Facebook, Twitter and say hello to her via email

Join K.K. Allen’s Newsletter List for New release & other book news, Giveaways & Event updates, Exclusive Cover Reveals and Sneak Peeks and Other exciting info!

Chess Desalls

Chess Desalls Bio Pic

Chess Desalls is the author of the YA time travel series, The Call to Search Everywhen. She’s a longtime reader of fantasy and sci-fi novels, particularly classics and young adult fiction. Her nonfiction writing has led to academic and industry publications. She’s also a contributing editor for her local writing club’s monthly newsletter. The California Writers Club, South Bay branch, has awarded two of Chess’ stories first place for best short fiction. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys traveling and trying to stay in tune on her flute.

Series Launch IG

A YA fantasy filled with metafiction and other literary twistiness. Read Calla and Valcas’ full story in this collection of the first three books in The Call to Search Everywhen! More than 600 pages of YA time travel adventure inside the pages of the following full-length novels: TRAVEL GLASSES (Book 1), INSIGHT KINDLING (Book 2), and TIME FOR THE LOST (Book 3)— only $5.99 for the set.


Buy the set on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Amazon UK, Apple UK, Goodreads

Chess has several FREE stories available for free through Amazon and on her website

Connect with Chess on her WebsiteFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and her  Blog

Sign up for Chess’s Newsletter to to get special announcements, new release info, and a free frabble e-card! What is a Frabble? Find out when you confirm your subscription.

C. L. Schneider

C. L. Schneider

Born in a small Kansas town on the Missouri river, C. L. Schneider grew up in a house of avid readers and overflowing bookshelves. Her first full-length novel took shape in high school, on an old typewriter in her parent’s living room. Currently residing in New York’s Hudson Valley Region with her husband and two sons, she spends her days torturing characters, overdosing on coffee, and waiting for the zombie apocalypse. C. L. Schneider writes epic and urban fantasy for adults, as well as the occasional sci-fi or post-apocalyptic story.  Her trilogy, The Crown of Stones, is an adult epic fantasy that follows the trails of Ian Troy, a man born with an addiction to magic.

In celebration, of Indie Pride Day all three books in The Crown of Stones Trilogy will be on Kindle Countdown for .99—for ONE DAY ONLY!


Follow the story of Ian Troy’s adventures, as he unlocks the mysteries of The Crown of Stones all the way through the ruin of his past to the final installment where he discovers the secrets of the ancient Shinree and the fate of all Mirra’kelan.

13459624_1301012826580042_1473907317_nJourney into a dark world of magic, addiction, obsession, war, deception, love, and loss—nearly 1500 pages of adult epic fantasy—for less than a cup of coffee!

To purchase The Crown of Stones in paperback and Kindle, visit C. L. Schneider’s Amazon Author page.

Connect with C. L.  on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Google+. She loves to talk about books, zombies, coffee, the ups and downs of writing, or whatever random topic pops into your head.

Visit her Website where you can follow her journey as a self-published author on her blog, “Heading Down The Yellow Brick Road.”

Subscribe to C. L, Schneider’s Newsletter for periodic updates on blog posts,  upcoming appearances, sales, book reviews, excerpts, announcements, and teasers.




It’s A Mystery!

What’s the mystery?

Why The Neil Marshall Mysteries of course!


It’s my 20th year anniversary in publishing this month and a marvelous press out of New Orleans has picked up the entire series to re-release them. Beginning with the first two books.

Come help me celebrate on June 25th here in your comfy clothes and enjoy the virtual cheer and party hearty!

We’re here to have fun and celebrate. Valerie, my wife, will start the day off at 9:00am CST. We’re getting a surprise visit during that hour from my new publisher and I’m posting at 1:00 PM CST for a Q & A and to share some fun facts, and we plan on ending it at 9:00 pm with a BANG.

Three giveaways!


This is our All-Star Author lineup:

Please note that ALL times are for CST…that’s Texas time folks!

9:00 — Opening ceremony and introduction
10:00 — Les Lynam
11:00 — Barabra Chioffi
12:00 — C.A. Hoaks
12:30 — Terry West
1:00 –Tim Hemlin
2:00 — Ann Swann
3:00 — K.K. Allen
4:00 — Jenny Burke
5:00 –Alex Carey
6:00 — Lizabeth Scott
6:30 — Lili Mahoney
7:00 — James Reid
8:00 — Chess Desalls
9:00 — Closing ceremony and giveaway announcements!


For the Red Hot Summer Giveaway, click on the image below:


Of Weft and Weave-Review & Author Interview

Series Cover 700x976

As you can see from the series image cover,  The Realm of Dica Series is rich, complex and vast. The covers and artwork are all done by the author Clive S. Johnson. In fact, throughout the print books he has scattered beautiful pencil drawings of his own. Ever since I read and reviewed the first book in this series, Leiyatel’s Embrace, I’ve been wanting to ask Mr. Johnson some questions. So stick around because after my Of Weft and Weave review are some answers I think you’ll find fascinating.

Five Stars for Of Weft and Weave


CoverClive S. Johnson’s second installment in the Dica series is a delight. It is more fast-paced than Leiyatel’s Embrace with many of the cast of characters of the first novel returning in an attempt to figure out what the heck is going on in their land and is there a way to fix it. Let me state right at the beginning that my heart goes out to Lord Nephril, the long-lived Master of Ceremonies to the many kings of Dica. The journey that takes him from his solitary existence atop the Graywyse Defence Wall to another world in The Lost Northern Way is almost as fascinating as the inner transformation that occurs to him in the process.

 The story opens with the ever faithful and a touch more worldly (at least more so than other inhabitants of Galgaverre) Pettar delivering a mysterious message to Nephril. Mysterious because it is written in the old language, which the aged Nephril can’t recall. In an attempt to decipher it, they cross paths with Steward Melkin. The scene early on with Melkin, and his mind for mechanization, is not only interesting but appears to set a major theme for the novel. When I read it my first thought was, “This is steampunk before steampunk was cool.”

The plot clothes itself in the attire of the expedition. Tolkien springs to mind, though Nephril is neither Bilbo Baggins nor Gandalf, even though I caught myself seeing shades of both from the corners of my eyes. Nonetheless, the adage “the joy is in the journey” certainly applies in this case, particularly with supporting characters with names such as Storbanther, King Namweed, Lady Lambsplitter, Dialwatcher, Breadgrinder, Lord Que’Devit, Steermaster Sconner . . . and the list goes on. In addition to Nephril and Pettar, I have a soft spot for Phaylan and Penolith and, as a wordsmith, appreciate how the soft sound of their names fit their characters.

Some of the plot twists I saw coming, and others I did not, the balance of which made the reading experience even more enjoyable. Speaking of balance, I questioned in my review of Leiyatel’s Embrace how much the author intended the novel to be allegorical. After reading Of Weft and Weave I am further convinced of its allegorical nature given the themes of balance and imbalance, political corruption, death and rebirth, and its apparent nod to the industrial revolution.

It was said of E.B. White that he couldn’t write a bad sentence. Mr. Johnson is one of the few writers I would also put in that category. His flair for detail and description is exemplary. “Like polished slate seen through muslin veils, faint glimpses of torpid sea floated in and out of sight as the swirling mist slowly billowed inshore,” and “He realised she smelt of rose petals and sandalwood, that her skin had a lustre all its own, and her voice a lulling depth that drew tingles to the spine” are but a couple examples (the spelling of realised and lustre being the Brit style, of course).

 If you enjoy literary fantasy—and Of Weft and Weave is fantasy, as the limb of Leiyatel would attest—this is the book and series for you. In fact, I purchased the paperback edition and was rewarded, as mentioned earlier, with Mr. Johnson’s fine sketches as well. Of Weft and Weave is a marvelously rich experience that I most highly recommend.  

Now an Interview with the author Clive S. Johnson

Author book image

Thank you, Clive, for agreeing to this short interview. Let’s begin by talking about the title, Of Weft and Weave, and in particular how it relates to Nephril. Not wanting to give away too much of the plot, at one point I was reminded of the shaman’s or wizard’s death. Clearly Nephril is not a wizard, yet to quote Studman, “Father always said [he] created [his] own fair wind. Said it seemed to follow [him] around like a tame bear.”


“No, thank you for asking, Tim.

 Well, the title, Of Weft and Weave, has a number of facets, but in the case of Nephril, it refers to the alteration to his structure that was carried out in Leigarre Perfinn, as touched upon in Leiyatel’s Embrace, and from which he gained his immortality, some two thousand years earlier. This alteration gave him a kindred affinity with the preserving power known as Leiyatel, made him a part of her—I can say little more without giving too much away, I’m afraid—and hence why he experiences a “shaman’s death”, as you term it, when he travels beyond her embrace. The protection it has given him up until reaching the Gray Mountains is what was noted by Studman as his father’s reported comment. It may help if I quote from Leiyatel’s Embrace, where Storbanther tells Nephril, in chapter 40 : “You see, Nephril, your having weft and weave of Leiyatel, for your own protection, unbalances everything”.

Of Weft and Weave is also appropriate in the sense of everything being interrelated, co-dependent, that no one part of a world can be altered without affecting the whole fabric, another major and recurring theme of the novel.”

Clive, There’s an interesting exchange between Dialwatcher and Breadgrinder concerning imbalance. Since I refer to the theme of balance and imbalance in my review, would you elaborate on this? After all, Dialwatcher and Breadgrinder appear to live in a very ordered world, one that perhaps once reflected Dica itself?

“You’re right: their small world of Nouwelm is indeed very ordered, and yes, it does reflect what Dica once was long before Nephril was born. The balance referred to is quite simply their taking from Grunstaan—their own smaller version of Leiyatel—no more than what Grunstaan itself can supply in the way of preservation. It’s analogous to our own world’s balance: that we should take no more than can be afforded by the Sun, our own Leiyatel.”

I wrote The Wastelanders out of my concern about the environment. Your work also speaks to me of environmental concerns. Please share why you initially wrote, and continue to write, the Dica series. Was there, or is there, anything in general that spurs you on?

“You’re right to be concerned, as we all should be. But that’s not the nature of our species, nor of life in general—something I address in more detail in the later volumes. As an engineer and a scientist, I’ve known since the ‘70s what course we were set upon, but I also knew that it was something people didn’t want to hear. So it was frustration, really, more than anything, that kept me engrossed in searching out the story of Dica. What every reader says is that “It’s a vividly real place to them”, and that’s because it’s our own world seen through different and perhaps fresher eyes.

 On a purely selfish level, that the message hasn’t overpowered the story has given me so much creative satisfaction. In fact, many readers don’t even notice it, which is fine, because a book’s prime justification must be that it’s a damned good read—what all fiction should be. For those who do come away from it with an awareness of its underlying message, I reckon they do so more receptively, not having had it “pushed down their throat”.

What this and my later volumes have allowed me to do, and why there are finally six in the series, is explore the complexities, the contradictions and confusions, the entrenched views and misplaced sentiments surrounding this issue. All the stuff that makes for the messy and confusing reality we now find ourselves in, and for which I’m honest in showing that there aren’t any easy answers—if any at all.”

Readers often see things in a novel the writer may not have realized were in there, Clive. In other words, subconscious messages or themes make their way into a work. I wonder if my interpretation of the Dica series as being allegorical is intentional on your behalf. The reader is seeing a world in transition where the natural and mechanized are melding. What are your thoughts on Of Weft and Weave (and Leiyatel’s Embrace, for that matter) as allegory?

 “I’m sure you’re right. I have always tried to be honest in my writing, to explore both weaknesses and strengths both in myself and the world as I see it, sometimes overtly, but I’m sure, often without realising. There’s certainly intentional allegory: my need to express my own views, but also much of my own observations of how our world works—or doesn’t. I think, in many ways, that’s why I relish the created-world genre. It gives so much more scope to come at familiar things from totally unexpected angles, to give a fresh spin on them. And yes, the resurgence of a mechanized world is intentional allegory, but you need to read the next volume, An Artist’s Eye, for more on this.”

Allow me to end this interview on a lighter note, my friend. You are that rare mix, the scientific-artist/artistic-scientist, which brings to mind writers such as Issac Asimov and Alan Lightman. For you, how does the scientist influence the artist? And if you produced a book cover that resembled the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s album, who would I see in that montage?

“Ha, thanks, and I suppose I am indeed an unfortunately rare specimen in our increasingly specialized world, which has largely lost the Renaissance Man. Leonardo Da Vinci must be spinning in his grave.

I think it’s given me a thirst for knowledge and understanding irrespective of the perceived widely separated camps of artist and scientist. I’m just as fascinated by what a work of art tells me, or a beautiful or ugly view, as I am by a law of physics, and have never been able to see them as different. It’s meant that, for the Realm of Dica series, there’s no traditional fantasy genre magic involved, no wizards and warlocks; everything in the world of Dica is predicated on science—so there’s no convenient plot or narrative get-outs used. It’s all good old Newtonian mechanics with a fair bit of cutting edge quantum physics thrown in, and the whole tale follows a logical progression.

 But more importantly, as far as most readers will be concerned, I hope it’s vividly brought alive by my artistic vision, and my artist’s observations. The folk of Dica feel as real as you or me because they’re the product of a lifetime of distilled people watching. And for fiction, that’s what really makes the difference.

 As for your last question, well, it would end up being overcrowded, so there’d have to be a cull for the final cover artwork. People who would certainly remain would be—in no particular order—James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia hypothesis, Mervyn Peake for his superlative Gormenghast trilogy, Gerard Manley Hopkins for his staggering poetry, to whom I’d have to add Shelley, Keats, Browning, Walter de la Mare and a whole host of others, oh, and Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Richmal Crompton of the Just William series, SF authors like Vincent King, Olaf Stapledon, then William Morris, Lewis Carroll, E R Eddison, David Hockney, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Schrodinger, Thomas Malory, Dickens, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, William Hope Hodgson, Hermann Hesse, Salvador Dali, Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Durer, Tolstoy, Stephen King, Tolkien… Oh, damn; think I’m going to have to start culling again, aren’t I?”

Thank you for allowing us a glimpse into your creative process and creation of The Realm of Dica Series. I look forward to reading more.

And now for all of you who would like to join me in this most intriguing series, here are Clive’s links.

Clive’s website’sBuypage, which has all the outlet links.

Twitter @Clive_SJohnson

Facebook page

Amazon author page US

Amazon author page UK

Goodreads author page

Clive’s blog

Clive’s website

A Royal Release for Lizabeth Scott

Thursday, January 7th was a special day for a good friend of mine. I met Lizabeth Scott on Twitter last year. I don’t remember the exact day, or even month, but I do remember that the day I befriended her we had a riotous conversation. I was impressed with her charm and intelligence, but especially her sharp wit. Since then we’ve started following each other on Facebook and although she writes in a very different genre than myself, her writing is crisp and intelligent. She joined in on our Holiday Story Hop and I truly enjoyed her story, Christmas Dreams.

Liz Scott Profile Pic

Who exactly is Lizabeth Scott?

In her own words, Lizabeth is a voracious reader, full-time romance writer, wife, mother, and PA to two terrier terrors. Liz is the author of The Royal Vow and Hearts of Gold Series, and she’s a Carolina girl who loves sand between her toes as frequently as possible.  She’s also known as GumShoeMom on the Geo Caching circuit.

Today I’d like to help her celebrate the newest release, the fifth book in her Royal Vow Series, Sweet Temptations. Congratulations Liz!



Giving in to one simply divine temptation changed the course of her life forever. Chellie’s world spiraled out of control, and she had no one to blame, but the one man who lied and betrayed her. Her one night of unrivaled passion became the worst and most cherished moment of her life.

Prince Siran SuMartra stood fourth in line for the throne. Nothing was expected of him, and that’s exactly what he delivered. The image he put forth to the public was becoming tiresome to maintain. When he woke disorientated in yet another strange bed, with a woman he couldn’t remember, he knew it was time to change and take his place beside his brothers.

Years later, two very different people come together and discover they’re bound through a common bond. Prince Siran sets out to make amends. Chellie knows putting her trust in him again would only lead to another sweet temptation.

“One night of simply divine temptation changed everything.”

Sweet Temptation buy links:





Connect with Liz Scott:

Twitter: @LScottBooks

Facebook: facebook.com/LizabethScottAuthor

Website: lizabethscottbooks.com

Email: Lizabeth@LizabethScottBooks.com

Subscribe to Liz Scott: http://tinyurl.com/Subscribe2LizScott

Blog: http://lizabethscottauthor.blogspot.com/

An Interview with JMD Reid

JMDReidAuthorPicToday I’m doing something different, well…for me anyway. Instead of my usual blog entry, I am interviewing JMD Reid. I met James on Twitter last summer when I first ventured into the slippery world of social media. We’ve tagged each other in several blog hops, exchanged countless tweets, and he wrote an amazing review of my book. He has been supportive and encouraging for almost a year now and I wanted to get to know him better. Before we begin, I’d like to share a few things we have in common. Besides writing, his love of fantasy and my love of reading both began with The Hobbit. We both love listening to amazing music and find inspiration in the outdoors. James says the rainy atmosphere and majestic beauty of Mount Rainier looming over the vast evergreen forests provides “the perfect climate to brew creative and exciting stories.” He plays video games, especially war games and D&D, and so do my wife and son!

And now, with out further ado…

To break the ice James, I’ll ask a few questions. Answer in just a few words.

  • “Your best friend would tell me that you…”

…are a nitpicker. I’m very critical of entertainment. If I see flaws in story or plot, I’ll mention it. Annoys my roommate.

  • “The one thing I can’t do without is…”

YouTube. It’s my main form of entertainment.

  • “My biggest pet peeve is…”

Bad drivers. After driving for a living most of my adult life, I really cannot stand people that don’t know how to drive.

  • Cat or dog?

I don’t own any pets because I rent. If I could, I would love to have a black lab.

  • One and only one, now—what is your favorite book?

The Darkness that Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker

  • “Star Trek or Star Wars?”

Babylon 5, I went with option three, the best SciFi space series out there. Those 5 seasons are a novel in TV form.

Okay, James. Ice broken. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty ~

Tell us a little more about you as a person.

I’m kind of a boring person. I’m an introvert, so I like to stay home. Like I said, I play Warhammer 40k, a miniature war game, Dungeons and Dragons, and watch UTube. I was born overseas. Okinawa, Japan. My dad was in the air force and stationed there. My family moved back stateside when I was two. I have no memory of living there.

I dropped out of community college because I found it boring. I was annoyed by my classmates not getting what the professor said the first time and they kept asking all the same stupid questions. It was like high school except my classmates were mostly in their forties and fifties so I had better expectations of them than teenagers. I like to learn, but what I want to learn not what I’m required to.

What are three things you’ve told yourself that kept you going during your darkest hour?

There’s always tomorrow. It can’t get worse. Write your pain down.

Write your pain down—I like that.

What motivates or inspires you?

I have stories inside me. I want to tell them to people, share the worlds that have been born inside me. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I was in Junior High. I read these amazing, creative books and knew that was what I wanted to do.

What interests you the most about the writing process, plot, character, world building, something else?

World building is definitely why I write Fantasy. I just love building a world, its history, people, all the background pieces, and then start making connections between what I’ve prepared and what I’m writing. It’s a fascinating process. In Above the Storm, I named Chaylene after a character from her world’s mythology Chaylene the Shieldmaiden. It was in my notes. I had thought nothing of this detail other than it was a fun bit of dressing for the character until I realized what how perfectly it fit her character arc in the novel.

I tend to do the same thing, James—only I begin with the characters and then let them show me the world.

How do you approach a story?

Organically. I do a rough outline, just putting down all the major plot points that I need to hit. With my Storm Below Series, I’m also thinking about the next novels and what I might need to seed earlier into the story. Then I just start writing and I see what happens. New ideas come to me. Particularly character interactions I like to not plot out and instead just throw them into conversations and see how they play off each other with a rough framework on how I want the scene to go.

I really like that technique, so what do you find the hardest thing to write about?

Blurbs. I wouldn’t say writing a novel is easy, and there are times where it can see slow, but having to condense your story into a few sentences that will hook a person and get them excited, knowing that this is your sales pitch, that everything is riding on these few sentences. I hate it.

You and me both, brother—

You’ve written some fascinating stories about time. Where do you get the ideas for these stories?

I love time travel movies. 12 Monkeys, Groundhogs Day, Safety Not Guaranteed, Millennium, Terminator, Back to the Future. It’s fun type of story telling. You can play with rules, mix things about, have some twists.

Tell us something about what made you want to start writing your novel, The Storm Below ~ AND ~ You’ve created a truly fascinating world in the skies above the storm…do, tell us more.

I was working on a completely different fantasy series I call The Shattered Lands. I didn’t feel I had the skill to capture what I wanted to write, so I decided to try a less ambitious story. I have always liked the idea of flying ships. I decided to try writing a novel with those elements. I did some world building, drew a map, and my simple story grew complicated. I thought it was cool to put an ever churning Storm below my skylands and then I wondered what was beneath those clouds. Next thing I knew, I had a world history steered me from the more fun, adventure, swashbuckling story I intended into a more epic fantasy plot.

That’s fascinating, James. I know you’re marketing this first novel as an epic fantasy series, but you also have two short stories and a novella published in kindle format. Tell us about them and why you decided to publish through Amazon?

Those short stories had all been rejected by various Fantasy and Sci-Fi literary magazines. I was feeling discouraged. I wanted to put my work out there and have people actually read it. I posted a few stories, connected to my novel Above the Storm on my blog, and the standalone stories on Amazon. I had hoped the Kindle Unlimited program would make it more encouraging for people to read my short stories since they could borrow it for free if they were subscribers.

You know, that’s why I put Black Silence out there on Amazon as well. Unless you are published by a big publisher, or have dozens of books out there, it’s very hard to break into the glossies.

Okay, tell us what else you’ve been up to writing wise.

Writing wise, I’m in the query process on my novel Above the Storm. I have a polished third draft that I’m rather proud of. While I’m querying literary agents, I’m working on the sequel to Above the Storm I am tentatively titling Reavers of the Tempest. Above the Storm is book one of a planned five book series. I also have entered my short story The Plight of the Arshion into a Fantasy Short competition.

That’s great, James. And listen y’all, I’ve posted the link at the end of the interview. When we’re finished, click on the link at the end, read his story and vote on it. James, you deserve the recognition. By the way, I love the title Reavers of the Tempest for your sequel.

I hear you recently spoke at an Author’s event.

I was part of a panel of indie authors speaking on the publishing industry—how to go about getting traditionally published and self-publishing–and why we chose to self-publish. Mark Shaw, Renee Metland, and I went to the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. We spoke to a pair of writing classes and then to the school’s writer’s guild. The classes were fine. The first one was an intro to creative writing and there were a few students that weren’t engaged, but most were. The second was a more advanced class and they were a lot more engaged and interested in learning about what it takes to get published.

I’ve done some speaking at conferences, James, and it’s not easy…but I love this next part, you make an excellent point.

The real fun was the writers guild. There were only a few students, I think six, but they were all aspiring authors and eager to learn about the pitfalls and hurdles before them. Mark, Renee, and I all had a great time. But it was sad to learn that even in the advanced class or the writers guild that none of them had been taught what a query letter is let alone the publishing process. The teachers seemed focus on teaching the craft but without giving them the education on what to do once you’ve written it, how to go about getting published, etc.

My experience as well ~ the writing process is always taught, but marketing is usually left out.

Speaking of process—everyone has a writing process—is there something particular or different about yours you’d like to share?

I tend to think about what I’m going to be writing next, working through a few ways a scene might go. Then I just sit down and type it out. It’s never quite as good as a imagined it. I like to write with my old laptop on my lap, sitting on a comfy chair, but I can write anywhere. I do like to have music playing. It acts almost as white noise, drowning out maybe what’s going on outside.

Do you have any events or further appearances in the offing?

I don’t have any appearances planned, but Mark, Renee, myself and a few other local authors that couldn’t make this appearance are on the look out to speak at more college and high school classes.

Great idea. I’ll keep a look out online for you as well. It sounds like you have much to offer these new writers and some of us old ones.

Finally, what tips on the writing life would you share only with a close friend (and everyone reading this blog)?

You need to devote time to writing everyday. It really doesn’t matter what you write. Just sit down and write. Start with an hour a day. Get into the routine. Force yourself to do it. I had to. It took me a year and a half to get into the habit of writing regularly.

Sitting around with a drink in your hand while telling your friends about the amazing, groundbreaking, world-changing masterpiece novel you have tumbling around inside your head is not the same thing as sitting down and writing that story.

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”–Jack London

 Love the quote! Thanks James, it’s been great talking to a kindred spirit. I wish you all the best in your literary endeavors. 

 Well, my appetite has definitely been whetted and you’ve given us an excerpt from your upcoming novel The Storm Below. Let’s read it now, but first a set up ~

This is an epic fantasy set in a sweeping world that exists as islands and continents floating above an ever-swirling storm. For one thousand years the Dawn Empire has known peace.


by J.M.D. Reid


Despite access to the greatest apothecaries, age had finally fallen upon Xaiutwoa III, Empress of the Dawn, and she gasped for breath as she leaned against the hulking form of her bodyguard. Every bone in her body ached, and she was glad for the solidly built Tezl, who towered a rope-and-a-half above her, his crimson scales almost blending into the red sandstone walls of the Tower of Morning.

“Thank you, Tezl,” Xaiutwoa murmured, looking up at the fierce form of her bodyguard for the last twenty or more years. He was a Gezitziz of the Ethinsk Tribe, and dwarfed even the tallest of the Luastria, and Xaiutwoa was hardly the tallest of her race.

“It is my honor, Your Radiance.” His voice was a deep, dry hiss. Every few heartbeats, his pink tongue flicked out, smelling the air.

She clucked her beak in amusement. “I’m hardly so radiant, anymore.” Her eyes glanced at the dull-brown plumage not covered by her robes, mottled with age. In her youth, her feathers had been brown and sleek, her scaled feet a fetching shade of purple-black, and her tail feathers had been straight and proud. Now brown discolored her feet and her tail plumage drooped.

“The setting sun is just as beautiful as the rising,” Tezl answered.

Her feathers ruffled in embarrassment. It was easy to think of the Gezitziz as unemotional with their dead, reptilian eyes. She let her distal feathers at the end of her wing stroke his strong forearm, then she made the last ascent alone. Letting Tezl assist her up the Tower had gone against tradition, and not even she could let him reach the top of the tower, no matter how much age had infirmed her. Not even the caretaker ever stood at the holy tower’s prominence.

Xaiutwoa’s breath wheezed as she struggled up the stairs, leaning against the rose-red walls, blushing like the rising sun. Her yellow robes, made of the lightest silks, seemed to weigh her down like they were soaked with water, and the golden crown, the largest, single collection of metal in the entire Empire, pressed heavily upon her brow.

Her strength failed, and she sucked air through her beak, her heart fluttering too fast. “Come on, you old hen,” Xaiutwoa chided herself. “The Rosy Prayer needs to be sung.”

She forced herself to keep climbing, ignoring her burdens. She wouldn’t have to bear them much longer. But would her daughter Niiwa have the strength to bear her burdens? Xaiutwoa remembered gentle Niiwa’s hard struggle to escape her shell at her hatching. And Yriitwao, her second daughter, had been so timid. When she had poked her head out of the shell, she seemed too frightened to escape. Both were so unlike her headstrong Opiixu, who seemed impatient to break free of his egg. Her heart fluttered at the pain of Opiixu’s memory. Her beautiful hatchling. He had been so sure he was ready to fly.

Gathering her emotions, Xaiutwoa wiped a tear away with a distal feather, and steeled herself for the last set of stairs. She was glad for the cool air atop the tower, a gentle breeze blowing from the southeast. A school of silvery, red-banded minnows, sleeping in the protection of the towers crenelations, scattered into the sky at her appearance, their small tails swishing. The Tower’s parapet was empty, save for a single plinth on which rested a crystal case. Within lay a slender book bound in faded, red leather.

On her coronation, the first time she had climbed the Tower of Morning, she had discovered the case. No one had told her of its existence. Curious, Xaiutwoa had opened the case. The words of Iiwroa’s book had shattered her soul with its weight. She feared that Niiwa, her gentle daughter, would be crushed beneath the book’s truth.

Xaiutwoa walked to the edge of the tower, ignoring the book, and surveyed the sky. The Tower of Morning was built on a small skyland barely large enough to hold the Tower and the dock where her royal barge lay moored. Her functionaries and hangers-on crowded the base of the tower like a colorful flock of birds. She glanced to the west where the largest skyland in the Empire, Swuopii, hung above the Storm Below. The larger of the two moons, Twiuasra, was fast setting behind Swuopii, framing the skyland with its soft, blue face.

If she had the sharp vision of her youth, Xaiutwoa could see her subjects crowding the eastern shore of Swuopii, awaiting the dawn of the summer solstice and for their Empress to sing the Rosy Prayer in thanks to Riasruo. More citizens were crowding boats hovering in the gulf between Jyou and Swuopii.

She turned to the west where only the Storm Below lay, spread out below like a mottled white-and-gray blanked, curving off the horizon in a fuzzy haze. Beneath those churning, imperturbable clouds lay the mythical ground. A thousand years ago, so the Talesingers proclaimed, her ancestors had dwelt on the ground, along with the ape-like Humans, the lizard-like Gezitziz, and the mole-like Zalg. Peace had reigned until Kaltein and his Wrackthar Humans made a pact with Theisseg, the dark Goddess of Storms and bitter rival to her sister Riasruo, Goddess of the Sun. When the Storm had blotted out the sun forever, the Goddess had shown mercy on her children and lifted the skylands above it.

The Storm was slowly turning lighter as the sun’s rise approached. Blushes of pink and red began to spread on the horizon while the stars above began to slowly fade. Xaiutwoa begin to breathe deeply, preparing herself to sing the Rosy Prayer—the most vital duty of the Dawn Empress, the book was quite clear on that—when she noticed a turbulence upon the Storm’s surface to the east.

Instead of the usual boil of clouds in a random, chaotic pattern, they instead were rotating slowly about a dark spot. She squinted her eyes, hating that age made her see only as well as a Human. No, it’s not a spot but a small hole in the Storm. But there were no skyrifts off Jyuou, and none would be so small anyways. Xaiutwoa studied the Storm Below with nervous curiosity. In all her long years, she had never seen a pattern form in the chaotic Storm. The pattern rotated faster, streaks of black and gray stretching about the hole in the Storm, reminding her of water swirling down a drain. She was so distracted by the Storm’s odd behavior, she nearly missed beginning her song as Riasruo’s first, golden rays fell upon her.

Xaiutwoa began the complex, wordless song of the Rosy Prayer, trying to pull her attention away from the strange pattern. Power hummed in the music, a lullaby to soothe Her pain.

She continued to study the Storm as she sang, the song so rooted in her memory she did not need to concentrate on its complex harmony. The rotation was moving faster now, the clouds streaking as they swirled about the hole. Thunder rumbled from below and a low, roaring sound filled the air. Xaiutwoa wracked her memory, straining to remember her lessons as a hatchling. Has the Storm ever behaved so strangely? Unease settled in her gizzard as louder peals of thunder rumbled again.

The Empress knew something was greatly wrong. Indecision filled her thoughts. Her gizzard warned her to assemble her scholars immediately to divine what strange madness swirled before them. But the Prayer was too important to stop—Iiwroa’s book was clear on that. What if this is just a rare behavior of the Storm? What if it is only some vagary of winds and currents, and I doom us all with my panic? She continued singing louder to drown out her unease.

The cyclonic pattern begin to rise out of the Storm, bulging like a bubble rising from a dark pool of water. Xaiutwoa chirped in surprise, the Rosy Prayer faltering as the cyclone rose higher and higher. A wall of swirling grays and blacks thrusting up, obscuring the rising sun.

Darkness fell as if the sun was setting.

Horror churned in her gizzard, and she instinctively backed away as the last rays of sun flickered out behind the Cyclone. What is happening? I sang the Prayer every solstice. I followed the book! Chirps of terror echoed from below as her functionaries, barely audible over the ever growing howl, realized something unprecedented was occurring.

Has She grown more powerful? Or more desperate?

Xaiutwoa was rooted to the spot, too stunned to do more than watch as the cyclone rushed forward, winds howling with rage. The wall of clouds filled the horizon, and inside the raging winds, she could make out shapes. Dark blotches moving through the maelstrom, seemingly unaffected by the fierce winds. Figures.

“They’re riding in the storm,” she whispered to herself. The riders seemed untouched by the cyclone as if they had the Blessing of Wind. Lightning flashed, and the figures glinted, reflecting the light. But what could make them…? Her gizzard churned in violent terror. “Goddess Above, they have metal.”

Lanii’s golden feathers! How have the Wrackthar survived a thousand years without the sun? It’s impossible.

Tears ran from her eyes, matting the downy feathers of her cheeks. She turned to the west, towards her Empire. The roaring of the Cyclone pressed like weights on her ears, so loud it was hard to think. The boats in the bay were turning, flying back towards the shelter of Swuopii’s docks.

A thousand years of peace, she realized. A thousand years of peace. We’ve forgotten how to fight. She turned to face the maelstrom, winds now ripping at her feathers, the wall of swirling clouds rushing towards her, a terrible blackness that would swallow her Empire. The riders in the storm had weapons raised, long and straight, and flashing deadly in the pulsing lightning.


Niiwa, her daughter, beckoned from the stairwell as Tezl rushed past her, racing across the parapet towards Xaiutwoa. He was a red hulk, fighting the screaming winds to reach her. A single thought crystallized in the Empress’s mind: Niiwa will need the book. Xaiutwoa turned to the plinth and opened the crystal case, her distal feathers gently scooping up Iiwroa’s Book into her wings. Tezl towered over her, trying to shield her from the wind.

Xaiutwoa thrust the book into his chest. “Tezl, protect this book. It cannot be lost! Niiwa will need it!”

“What?” Tezl asked as he grabbed the book.

“The Truth!” she shouted. “Niiwa will need it! You need to protect her now! She is the Empire’s future!” Xaiutwoa caught her daughter’s green eyes, seeing love and fear reflect there.

“I’ll protect you and the book,” Tezl’s said in his deep, rasping voice. His cold, scaled arm wrapped around her, and she leaned into his strong frame as he gently lifted her. She felt momentarily safe in his arms. Her loyal guard. He would protect Niiwa and the book. He was too loyal to fail. As Tezl turned, she saw the Cyclone was almost upon them. The riders had pale, Human faces, black hair streaming behind them.

We have forgotten how to fight.

The Cyclone crashed into the Tower.

 Here are the links and blurbs for JMD Reid’s books.

Time’s Prison

TimesPrison“I let him die for duty.”

Mokom and Alila are trapped in a prison of love and duty.

Alila, the first female Knight Defendant in centuries, stands at a cliff, despair filling in her heart. She is haunted by the strain of battle and the guilt of letting Mokom die.

Doomed to repeat her mistakes, Alila jumps to her death as she remembers her past and the young man that changed her life.

How will Mokom and Alila escape the chains of Love and Duty? How will they break free of the prison of Time that traps them? Alila escape the chains of Love and Duty? How will they break free of the prison of Time that traps them?

The Assassin’s Remorse


‘What had she tried to say to him at the end?”

Cerena’s face transformed in the last moment’s of her life, the fear fleeing, and a strange, calm serenity overtook her. Her lips moved, whispering three words.

The Assassin was forever changed.

A decade of blood stained his hands. None of his victims had ever weighed down his conscience. He was merely the tool, the living weapon wielded by his employers. His victims had begged for their lives, had cursed him with their dying breath, and stared in uncomprehending disbelief.

But none had ever been calm in their final moments. None had ever stared up at him with such serenity.

Cerena’s blue eyes and her final words haunted the Assassin. Three simple words plunged his soul into torment.

Reflections of Eternity

ReflectionsofEternityIn the depths of darkness, Xella reflects across eternity.

The dark god Zarketh stirs. Heljina’s lullaby has fallen silent. And all Rehman can do is drink as the world hurtles towards its end. But when Rehman draws the Bedko’s Blade, the foolish acolyte is tasked with saving the world.

Five hundred years earlier, the great warrior Zella marched down into Zarketh’s tomb to fight the god. She never returned.

Now Rehman must find the courage to walk the same, dark path as Zella. Across eternity, in the depths of the earth, the past reflects the present. To what end shall Rehman discover?

Reflections of Eternity is dark, exciting fantasy short story from the author of The Assassin’s Remorse.

Above the Storm~Book One of the Storm Below series

The skies above the Storm are a dangerous place. Agerzak pirates hunt for lone ships to plunder, the Empire of Vaarck is forever covetous of the rebellious skylands that have slipped out of its grasp, and the mysterious Stormriders summon massive Cyclones to rise out of the ever-churning Storm Below to attack the small, floating islands. For the Autonomy of Les-Vion, the Navy is their Stormwall, protecting its citizens from all threats above and below the Storm.

On the summer solstice, every citizen of the Autonomy that had turned seventeen are given the Blessing of Riasruo, the Goddess Above, and are entered into the yearly naval draft. All Ary wants is to marry his sweetheart Chaylene and start a life with her in their small, farming village. But life never goes the way anyone plans and the Autonomy needs fresh men and women to defend their skies.

Rushing into marriage to keep from being separated, Ary and Chaylene are taken from their homes to Camp Chubris where the Autonomy trains its new batch of Sailors, Marines, and Scouts. Dealing with the stress of training, their new marriage is strained by the guilt of Ary’s childhood and the temptations of their fellow recruits.

But Ary has a dangerous secret. As a boy, he had witnessed a Cyclone attack on his home skyland and was touched by the Dark Goddess Theisseg’s lightning. This taint poses a threat to the Church of Riasruo and their assassin plot his death for the greater good of the skies above the Storm!

Short stories set in the world of ~ The Storm Below 

The Last Flight of the Intrepid

When a Cyclone threatens Vesche, the Intrepid sallies forth to defend the skyland from the depredations of the Stormriders and Thojhen is going to find out what he truly is made of.

The Plight of the Arshion

After Agerzak pirates cripple Rhione’s ship, she has to work hard to keep the ship in the sky and protect her son.

Here is the link to the contest for “The Plight of the Arshion.”

Check it out!

And join James on:



and his website JMD Reid.com

The Next Level

Comparing books is often unfair, particularly if they are from different genres. Forgive the sports metaphor, but can you say quarterback Tom Brady is a better athlete than forward LeBron James? It’s a safe bet Brady throws a football better than James, and James dunks a basketball better than Brady. As for the overall athlete, we could look at commonalities such as strength, speed, BMI, etc. and come to a reasonable conclusion. Perhaps then the same can be said for stories as most all tend to follow the typical plot line of exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and conclusion, not to mention character development, be they hobbits, mice or regular people such as you and me.

Recently I read two very different books, one a fantasy and the other a mystery-suspense. The fantasy was a wonderful journey that knitted together a rich plot for over four hundred pages. The suspense was a novella that got right to the point and hammered it home in about a hundred and fifty pages. I admit to liking the fantasy more, but then I enjoy thick books with well-developed characters and settings. Now that’s not to say I didn’t like the suspense. I did. And it was never meant to be a long and drawn-out story. However, I still think it missed the chance to be a really great read.

The suspense novella was well written and had lively characters. The author also created an interesting situation. In a nutshell, a young girl goes to work at an assisted living facility that used to be a sanitarium. The mystery surrounds a resident who hasn’t shown his face in years. For some reason the girl becomes obsessed with the reported hermit. Not a bad set-up. Yet instead of exploring the obsession and tying it into the girl’s past or present situation, the writer ushers the reader right on through to the end.

My point is that too many good ideas go underdeveloped. Had I a psychological reason the girl in the suspense became fanatical about the reclusive man it would’ve been a more satisfying experience. And this has nothing to do with writing style. Robert B. Parker also wrote lean prose. I read every book in the Spenser series, and in the later novels I think a Robert Frost poem had more words than some of Parker’s chapters. Yet he was a master at character motivation and conveying the psychological aspects to the reader.

All plots have been told and retold, but not all stories. It’s the writer’s voice and his or her characters that make the story new. Take your narrative to the next level by giving your characters their due. They deserve it, and so do your readers.