5 Questions for Claire Davon

Claire Davon bio photoClaire Davon is another of my sisters at Broad Universe, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting, encouraging, honoring, and celebrating women writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative genres.

Claire can’t remember a time when writing wasn’t part of her life. A native of Massachusetts and cold weather, she left all that behind to move to the sun and fun of California, but has always lived no more than twenty miles from the ocean. Claire has many book-irons in the fire, most notably her urban fantasy series, The Elementals’ Challenge series, but writes contemporary and shifter romances. In addition to writing, she enjoys animal rescue, reading, and movies. You can follow her work at http://clairedavon.com/blog/.

We sat down to chat about her novel, Shifting Auras.

Maya Wingfield was raised to trust no one—least of all the dueling U.S. and Russian paranormal agencies, Universe and Night Stars, who’d love to harness her mind-reading gift.

She thought Richmond a safe place to escape their influence and hide from a rising psychic malevolence that drove her out of San Diego. But when she gets yet another call to retrieve her drunken roommate, her mind shows her an amber-eyed Universe operative with an impenetrable net around his deepest secret—and a voice that sends shock waves of awareness down her nerve endings.

Maya’s curves and aquamarine eyes aren’t the only things that jolt Ian Sanderson’s mental shields, bringing sexual tension thrumming back to life. It’s a power his Universe-trained mind knows he shouldn’t trust. And a vulnerability that makes his telekinetic power burn in his palms to protect her.

But to Universe, she is just one of too many unanswered questions. A target for Whisper, a shadowy new group of paranormals with powers beyond anything Universe has ever seen. Once before, Ian failed to protect a sensitive from a brain-scrambling attack. He will not fail again… if it means using his talent—or his body—to stop a bullet.

Shifting Auras 850 x 1275

Did something in the real world inspire Shifting Auras?

I describe my book as X-men meets paranormal romance, so there wasn’t anything real world that inspired it. It evolved in part from a dream I’d had a long time ago, but took on a mind of its own as soon as I started writing it. I didn’t expect it to evolve the way it did, but I’m quite happy about that!

What is your favorite scene in the book?

There’s a fight scene toward the end where all of my characters have to use their various talents against their enemy, who has the power to dazzle all of them and bend them to his will. I had to write about psychic ability, invisibility, telekinesis, and weather powers—all within the same scene—while they fought against the dazzler. The challenge about writing a story/series like this is finding new and interesting powers for my characters while staying within the familiar. It was also an opportunity to show how much my heroine, the psychic/sensitive, has grown. She is instrumental in stopping the bad guy, something she couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of the book.

What was your writing process like as you wrote Shifting Auras?

My writing process is the same for most anything I write — that is to say, I slog through. I have a set number of words I write every day and I do that no matter what. In addition, I often edit and/or have another project I am working on at the same time, but I always get my words every day. I’m very much a pantser, so often times the story will take a left turn as I’m going. In the case of Shifting Auras, I actually added a major element to it after I finished it, because the feedback I’d gotten suggested that my world-building wasn’t strong enough. Turns out, that new element took the entire series to a different level.

What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?

Soul Mate Publishing, my publisher, is very supportive of their writers, so I would have to say the community around the publisher and the various ways that the writers and staff give you unexpected opportunities to promote your book.

What do you have planned next?

I have a few irons in the fire. Right now, the second book in the Universe Chronicles series—following a different set of characters than Shifting Auras, but also showing the prior couple—is at the publisher for consideration. I also have a different series that I am self-publishing (Elementals’ Challenge) and am working on edits for the fourth book. In addition, I have some short stories being released by Weird Reader, Transmundane Press, and Fantasia Divinity in the next month or so.

Get a copy of Shifting Auras for yourself from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LcMsyB.

You can see all of Claire’s book on her Amazon page: https://amzn.to/2UwSRsi.

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5 Questions for Catherine Lundoff

CLundoff Publicity photoCatherine Lundoff is one of my sisters in Broad Universe, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting, encouraging, honoring, and celebrating women writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative genres.

Catherine is an award-winning writer, editor, and publisher from Minneapolis. Her books include Night’s Kiss, Crave, Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories, Hellebore and Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic, Silver Moon, and Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories. She is the publisher at Queen of Swords Press, a genre fiction publisher specializing in fiction from out of this world.

Her newest book is Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space).

Think pirates are all about the rum and the pieces of eight? Let these fifteen tales draw you into the adventures of a new kind of pirate. Sail with them as they seek treasure, redemption, love, and revenge. Raise the Jolly Roger and sharpen your cutlass (or recharge your raygun) and climb aboard for some unforgettable voyages. Featuring stories by Ginn Hale, A.J. Fitzwater, Geonn Cannon, Joyce Chng, Elliott Dunstan, Ashley Deng, Su Haddrell, Ed Grabianowski, Mharie West, Matisse Mozer, Soumya Sundar Mukherjee, Megan Arkenberg, Peter Golubock, Michael Merriam and Caroline Scoria.

ebook QoSP Scourge 432 x 648 72 dpi

Did something in the real world inspire Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space)?

Most of the time, I’m a writer, but in this instance, I’ve just edited my third anthology, which was released on 12/1. Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) is an anthology of fantastical pirate stories. Stories range from the purely historical to a wide variety of fantastical settings to stories set in outer space. I’m a huge fan of pirates, both real and imaginary, and I gather my authors are, too! I don’t think I can narrow it down to one or two real pirates, though I do have my favorites.

What is your favorite story in the book?

As the editor, I can’t really play favorites and honestly, I have so many! I love them all, even though they are very different from each other. There are dark fantasy pirates, YA pirates, space pirates:  there’s plenty to choose from. Some of the amazing stories that I got included Elliott Dunstan’s “Andromache’s War,” a fantastical tale about Hector’s widow and what she does after the fall of Troy; Ashley Deng’s “The Seafarer,” about a Barbary Corsair piercing the veil between worlds to wreck vengeance on those who wronged him and his people; A.J. Fitzwater’s “Quest for the Heart of Ocean,” a fantasy pirate adventure featuring dapper lesbian capybara pirate captain, Cinrak, who’s also appeared in one of Fitzwater’s stories in Beneath Ceaseless Skies; and Caroline Sciriha’s “A Crooked Path Home,” about a young space pirate who finds himself looking for redemption. There are also Viking pirates, mecha animals in the Indian Ocean, pirates in the swamps of Louisiana, marooned pirates, pirates in the South China Sea and more!

What was your process like as you edited the book?

When I wrote the CFS (Loren’s note: call for submissions), I explicitly stated that I wanted to see pirates from different parts of the world and different time periods. I was hoping to see submissions from international authors as well. I ended up getting just shy of 100 submissions from fourteen countries. Most of the stories came in through open submissions and I read them all. Since pirates can be found all around the world and in every time period, I wanted the final TOC to reflect that. I also wanted LGBTQ+ as well as heterosexual pirates and I wanted to be conscious about gender and author country of origin in the makeup of the final collection. The final TOC includes authors of different gender identities from 8 different countries, including the U.S., as well as the aforementioned wide range of pirate tales. The hard part for me was narrowing all those fun submission down to my final choices, and that I accomplished by reading and rereading. I picked my final fifteen stories, edited them, sent them to the authors for approval and/or changes, sent the next round off to a copyeditor, worked with the authors to make a few more changes and, voila!, instabook! By which I mean about 5-6 months worth of work.

What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space)?

In the next couple of weeks, I’ve got two bookstore readings, three event tables and a couple of interviews, plus some online promotions. I’m hoping that all of them range from the good to the phenomenal. Right now, there’s all the anxiety of reading the early reviews – but we’re off to a good start!

What do you have planned next?

I’m the publisher at Queen of Swords Press so next up is working on author Alex Acks’s new steampunk book, which will be another series of linked steampunk novellas about Captain Marta Ramos, her crew and her compatriots. I’m also working on Blood Moon, the sequel to my menopausal werewolf novel Silver Moon and plan on putting that out later on next year. Depending on how things go, I’m hoping to open up to book length submissions for a bit and see what I get. The goal is to publish 2-3 books a year as long as I need to work full-time at a day job. I’m hoping that things take off, but better safe than sorry.

You can follow Catherine on her blog at https://catherineldf.dreamwidth.org/.

Her Amazon page is https://amzn.to/2UgPAgG.

And you can pick up a copy of Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) at https://amzn.to/2PlOBZc.

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New Alondra stories

I’m really excited to announce some Alondra news:
First off, one of her new adventures appeared in Weirdbook magazine.  It’s been a goal of mine to be published in Weirdbook forever, so this is a dream come true.  The story is set on Michigan’s Mackinaw Island, at the confluence of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan and between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. (I’ve written about the place before in Wish You Were Here.)

You can get a copy of the magazine and check “Elle a Vu un Loup” out for yourself here. I’m excited to be sharing the table of contents with John Linwood Grant and Jessica Amanda Salmonson.

Occult Detective 5

Not out just yet — but coming very soon — is the next issue of Occult Detective Quarterly with another new Alondra story.  “Something in the Water” is set in San Francisco’s Academy of Science.  It was inspired by all the hours I spent there with my daughter when she was little.  Back then, the Academy was in a dark and ominous temporary building downtown while the beautiful new building was constructed in Golden Gate Park.  I was fascinated by the very long-lived sea bass…

The issue isn’t listed for sale yet, but keep an eye on Amazon or the Occult Detective site. It’s supposed to be out before the end of this year.

If you’ve been waiting to check out some previously published stories, I dropped the prices on the three Alondra collections available on Amazon:

  1. Alondra’s Experiments: https://amzn.to/2KUtPPK
  2. Alondra’s Investigations: https://amzn.to/2PgOoqb
  3. Alondra’s Adventures: https://amzn.to/2Pged9J

Nancy Kilpatrickauthor of_Thrones of Blood seriesPower of the Blood series

Finally, if you’re curious about Alondra and would like to read some (free!) flash fiction that will give you a little taste of her world, I’ve had two pieces up on Nina D’Arcangela’s blog.

Nov flash prompt“Letter from New Orleans” is about the first day Alondra was in the Crescent City and introduces characters who appear in “Last-Born,” the most anthologized Alondra story (most recently in Alondra’s Investigations): https://ninadarc.wordpress.com/2018/11/28/ladies-of-horror-flash-project-horror-author-loren-rhoads-morbidloren-sotet_angyal-loh-fiction-2/

Sirens Call“Mr. Moonlight” is the first story I’ve finished about Alondra’s childhood.  I’m really pleased with how it turned out.  Please take a look: https://ninadarc.wordpress.com/2018/10/28/ladies-of-horror-flash-project-horror-author-loren-rhoads-morbidloren-sotet_angyal-loh-fiction/

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5 More Questions for Erika Mailman

JKR for website

I met Erika Mailman last October when we both did SF in SF at the American Bookbinders Museum.  She struck me immediately as a kindred spirit. I’ve interviewed her before about her most recent book, The Murderer’s Maid.

Officially, Erika Mailman is the author of four historical novels: The Witch’s Trinity, a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book which Khaled Hosseini called “gripping;” Woman of Ill Fame, which is about a Gold Rush prostitute; House of Bellaver, a literary ghost story set in Oakland; and now The Murderer’s Maid: a Lizzie Borden Novel. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Arizona, has been a Yaddo fellow, and served as a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards.

I asked her to come back to tell me about The Witch’s Trinity:

In 1507, when a severe famine strikes a small town in Germany, a friar arrives from a large city, claiming that the town is under the spell of witches in league with the devil. He brings with him a book called the Malleus Maleficarum—“The Witch’s Hammer”—a guide to gaining confessions of witchcraft, and promises to identify the guilty woman who has brought God’s anger upon the town, burn her, and restore bounty.

Güde Müller suffers stark and frightening visions—recently she has seen things that defy explanation. No one in the village know this and Güde herself worries that perhaps her mind has begun to wander—certainly she has outlived all but one of her peers in Tierkinddorf. Yet of one thing she is absolutely certain: she has become an object of scorn and a burden to her son’s wife. In these desperate times her daughter-in-law would prefer one less hungry mouth at the family table. As the friar turns his eye on each member of the tiny community, Güde dreads what her daughter-in-law might say to win his favor.

Then one terrible night Güde follows an unearthly voice and the scent of charred meat into the snow-filled woods. Come morning, she no longer knows if the horror she witnessed was real or imagined. She only knows that if the friar hears of it, she may be damned in this life as well as the next.

The Witch’s Trinity beautifully illuminates a dark period of history; it is vividly imagined, elegantly written, haunting, and unforgettable.

heather hi res

Thank you, Loren, for having me on your blog again! Autumn is always our time of year, with the renewed interest in graveyards, witches and the eerily unexplainable.

Did something in the real world inspire The Witch’s Trinity?

Yes. I used to have a long commute and so I would listen to Great Lectures CDs in my car. I was deeply affected by one by Teo Ruiz called “The Terror of History,” about witchcraft. He mentioned a very strange statistic: that there were a lot of women accused of witchcraft in medieval Europe by their own daughters-in-law. Now, whenever I said that at a book event, I always was surprised by the laughter that broke out. I guess a lot of people have difficult relationships with their mothers-in-law, but I love mine! I was horrified by the idea that a family member (of sorts) would accuse another of witchcraft, knowing the usual outcome was execution.

My horror grew when he explained that that was often the case because resources were scant. If you don’t have enough food to feed everybody, of course you first want to feed growing children (who will go on to later feed you) and yourself and your workmeet… but the elderly woman who sits at the fire all day and doesn’t contribute to the household resources? Maybe it’s time for her to go. Starvation to that degree is a horror worse than anyone tormenting a summer camp in a hockey mask.

I built my novel The Witch’s Trinity around this statistic.

What is your favorite scene in the book?

There is a revenge scene that is very powerfully satisfying, but alas, I can’t talk about it without it being a plot spoiler! Suffice it to say, sometimes the powerless can have their day in court.

What was your writing process like as you wrote The Witch’s Trinity?

I worked from an outline and thus had a sort of “to do” list to work through. I kept one important thing open, though: whether my main character would live or die. I waited until I had written my way to the end to figure out the correct answer to that question.

One crazy thing happened while I was in the process of writing the novel. My mom emailed me, saying, “Here is a link to a website about our ancestor Mary Bliss Parsons, who was accused of witchcraft!” That was uncanny to the nth degree. I had been fascinated by witchcraft all my life, had even wished I had a witchcraft ancestor, and here it turned out I did, while I was writing about witches!

Cornet and Mary Bliss Parsons stone

Mary Bliss Parson’s monument, from the author’s collection.

Mary Bliss Parsons was accused and underwent trial twice (perhaps even a third time, but records were destroyed) and was acquitted. You don’t hear about that too often, but in the U.S. colonies, magistrates were far more likely to acquit witches than were their counterparts in medieval Europe. Note: Mary Bliss Parsons is a different person from Mary Parsons, who was also accused of witchcraft in the same town and same time. Here’s the website my mom sent me to: http://bit.ly/2O5G00F The image at the website is NOT Mary Bliss Parsons, and I’ve repeatedly asked the web masters to either label the painting correctly or take it off the site. Strangely enough, it looks like my mother, an 11th generation descendant.

I dedicated my novel to Mary Bliss Parsons and wrote an extensive Afterword about her that appears in the back of The Witch’s Trinity.

What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?

Meeting other descendants. In fact, I go to the west coast Parsons Family Reunion! I see these fun people once a year and adore that connection.

If you ever wind up in Northampton, Massachusetts, there is a great historical society with the Nathaniel Parsons House, built on the site of Mary’s original homelot. Nathaniel was the grandson of Mary and her husband Cornet Joseph Parsons.

What do you have planned next?

I just finished a (very rough) draft of a new novel. I wanted to finish by the end of September, so on Sept. 30 I was trying to write the very last few paragraphs as I kept falling asleep. I did it by midnight, though! It’s a young adult novel about…you guessed it…witchcraft. I’m going to spend the next few weeks heavily editing and then seeking an agent to represent it. In the meantime, we just adopted a rescue puppy and so that has been taking quite a lot of energy and time and bringing lots of SMILES to our family!

Erika’s website: http://erikamailman.com/writing/the-witchs-trinity/

Erika’s blog: http://erikamailman.blogspot.com/

Follow Erika on Twitter: @ErikaMailman and on Instagram: @ErikaMailman

To buy The Witch’s Trinity:

Random House: http://bit.ly/2BZrJf4

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2PTpDW2

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2dpMYKc


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The end of Nanowrimo 2018

Angelus Rose mockup CoverToday is the last day of Nanowrimo 2018. My book isn’t finished, but I am oh so very close to making my 50,000 words for this year.

Today is bittersweet, because I still have at least another month’s work ahead of me to finish this draft, but the real end is within sight.  I just have to not get distracted by the holidays or the ongoing health dramas in my family.  I can do this.  I really want to see this book finished at last.

Earlier this week, we played a little game on Facebook where everyone was invited to list 5 unusual things about their work in progress. My list was this:

  1. Succubus heroine
  2. Gnostic angels
  3.  2 (maybe 3) graveyards
  4.  Griffith Observatory
  5. Canter’s Deli egg creams

I was fascinated by the lists that everyone else came up with.  You can find them https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Floren.rhoads.5%2Fposts%2F10156017619067874&width=500” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>here, if you’re curious or would like to play.

Lost-Angels-Cover-Front-SmSo what’s this mysterious book I’ve been pounding away at all month?  It’s the sequel to Lost Angels, the novel about a succubus and her angel that came out several years ago.  Lost Angels ended with Lorelei being exorcised of the mortal girl’s soul that was possessing her.  Angelus Rose is about trying to find a place in the world when you’ve been fundamentally changed by love.  It’s still full of delicious horror, too.

I’ll be hosting another write-in at the Borderlands Cafe in San Francisco tonight from 5-7 pm.  Come by if you just need to knock out those last couple-thousand words.  If you’ve already finished, come along and get a jump on your revisions.

Either way, see you at the Nanowrimo TGIO party on December 6?


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