Interview with David J. O’Brien, Author of Little Victories



David J O’Brien is an Irish ecologist, poet, fiction writer and teacher. He was born in Dublin, studied environmental biology and zoology at University College Dublin. He taught English in Madrid for four years, biology in Boston for seven years and now teaches English and science in Pamplona, Spain, where he lives with his wife, daughter, and son. He is still involved in deer biology and management, and has written about deer watching for Ireland’s Wildlife and deer management for the Irish Wildlife Trust. His non-academic writing is often influenced by science and the natural world – sometimes seeking to describe the science behind the supernatural. His poems have been published in several anthologies and journals, such as such as Albatross, Houseboat, and Misty Mountain Review. His paranormal horror trilogy, Silver Nights: Leaving the Pack, Leading the Pack and Unleashing the Pack, contemporary adult fiction novels Five Days on Ballyboy Beach, and The Ecology of Lonesomeness, have

been published by Tirgearr Publishing. His young readers fairytale novel Peter and the the Little People and paranormal YA The Soul of Adam Short were published by MuseIt Up Publishing and are now self-published, as is his dystopian novella The Logical Solutionand short story collection, Last Light on the Sage Flats. More of his writing, including poems and blogs about nature, rewilding and wildlife management, can be found at


Can you tell us a little about your background?

I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, where I studied Environmental Biology and then a doctorate in Zoology. I used to go hunting with my father in the Wicklow Mountains and later used this in studying the deer of the area. I met my wife while in my first year of post-grad, when she was living in Dublin on her Erasmus year. Later when I finished my doctorate, I went to Madrid where she’d started her own doctorate and after a few years there we went to Boston before returning 12 years ago to her hometown of Pamplona. I teach biology, general science and English now.

How did you get started as an author?

I started writing poems when a teen, then a couple of short stories. I had an idea for a were-wolf story using the stuff I learned in college about physiology. I was always interested in wolves – I’d wanted to study deer-wolf interactions as a post-doc if life had gone that way! I’d been reading Barry Lopez’s book, of wolves and men, and of course Wolfen by Whitley Strieber and I wondered what the origin of the myth could have been. I wrote a story, then with some positive feedback from a girl in the college Literature Society, I extended it to a novel. I spent a few years sending it round until it was picked up by Tirgearr Publishing. I ended up writing two more novels to complete the trillogy.

Can you talk about your latest book and the inspiration behind it?

It’s a YA novel set in Dublin (my first novel set there) and Wicklow. It’s called Little Victories and the main characters are Nicki, a girl in her third year of secondary school – 9th grade – who’s trying to figure out her sexual orientation at the same time prepare for the Irish State examinations at the end of the year. She’s just been introduced to the trick of tagging rides on her bike by holding onto the back of trucks and heavy goods vehicles by her two friends Mark and Ashton, both of whom seem to have figured out their own sexuality. They go mountain biking and Nicki discovers that many illegal brush fires are being set in the hills and she decides they should do something to stop them. Of course, life is not so easy as deciding something and finding immediate justice or solutions, but as spring turns to summer and the friends start a new year, Nicki learns that you have to appreciate the few good things that do come your way and be content with that.

It was inspired by various elements: I was asked to produce a new YA novel by the publisher of my first one, The Soul of Adam Short; I’d had an idea when I was a teenager of a story about kids who tag lifts from trucks in Dublin, which was something I used to do when young and foolish; and in recent years the setting of illegal brush fires by farmers and kids with nothing better to do has been a growing problem all around Ireland.

How do you approach the writing process? Do you have a specific routine or method?

I have no method, other than scraping time. When I am writing the notes, outline and the sketch of the chapters I usually write by hand on notepads, and I can do it very quickly, in any spare time I have, such as sitting on a park bench while my kids play in the park. When I type up the notes it’s easy enough to get words on the page, but it’s when I have to stitch it all together, and fill in the gaps that I have to get some more time to concentrate. I find that going to a café or bar in town while I wait for my kids during extracurricular activities in the afternoon is a perfect way to force myself to do work. It can take a long time to get the first draft done compared to when I had no kids and I had a couple of hours every afternoon before my wife came home back in the day, but it’s what has to work for now!

Can you share any challenges you faced during the writing process of your latest book?

Time is always the challenge. I’ve two kids, now 12 and 7, so while writing this they were younger and even more demanding than they are now! So it was hard to get concentration time. Also, being a teacher, it’s hard to get your brain to re-start after a day giving classes.

How do you develop your characters and bring them to life on the page?

That’s a difficult question for any writer to answer, I think I just treat them as real people as much as possible and have them act as normal people would – even if we’re talking about werewolves, they’d have to act rationally for me to believe in them myself. They develop as I write by being shaped by the action and the events that happen to them. Of course, they’ve had a lot of things happen to them before we get to chapter one that we don’t see directly on the page. I often write two or three chapters to develop the back story that later get cut off at the nose so the actual chapter one starts where chapter four is in my head.

Can you discuss your research process for your latest book?

I’d the place in my mind, though it’s been more than 20 years since I’ve lived there. I visit a couple of times a year and I keep abreast of the environmental news back home through social media and my friends there – old university colleagues I studied with. I’m a keen mountain biker myself and spend my summer mornings on the saddle while staying in the countryside near Pamplona.

The one thing that I had to just make up was the school the characters attend…. In Ireland, it’s still very uncommon to have co-ed schools. Most kids go to schools run by the Catholic Church and these are usually segregated into boys and girls schools – even if they’re on the same property, there will be separate buildings for each group. It’s pretty damn boring, and it’s disastrous for the plot of a YA novel that aspires to be in any way interesting! There is a co-ed comprehensive school in Blackrock, but I have placed it in a different neighbourhood for the purposes of my story, on the campus of two other segregated Irish language schools.

How do you handle writer’s block and overcome creative obstacles?

I find that it doesn’t really happen to me as a block, but more that I’m not motivated to get down to it because I haven’t got a long stretch of time to get my head back in the story before I know I’ll be distracted. So I put things off till a weekend or a day off, and then I’m usually distracted anyway.

When I do sit down, I might only get a few paragraphs done, but then I’m back on track and over a few days I can make more progress even in shorter bursts.

The creative obstacles usually just overcome themselves. As I write, the ending, the conclusions, the explanations all just come to me as logical results of the sequence of events. It’s hard to explain, but for example in my latest WIP I am delving into UFOs and the obvious question is why they would come, what all that nonsense about Roswell in the 50s could be woven into anything modern or logical, and yet, a reason came to mind as I wrote, which I hope will ring as true to my readers as it did to me when it popped into my mind!

Can you share any upcoming projects or books you are working on?

My work in progress at the moment is a short novel about visitations and UFOs. I had the idea many years ago but only started it this year. I was surprised to find that I’d the first 10 or so chapters all planned out! I have to figure out what happens after that.

I am working on the second draft of a long novel set in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. It’s around 200k words so far, so I’m not sure how easy it will be to get published, but it’s been a labour of love for twenty years and I finally got the first draft completed last year. It will require a few tweaks, though, as society and our knowledge of history has changed a little since I had the idea and I will need to update some parts.

How do you stay motivated and disciplined while writing?

I don’t stay very disciplined, as I think I’ve explained. But I find it easy to be motivated as I want to do justice to the idea, the characters and the work I’ve done in creating the world they live in. That’s why I always go back to the story and keep chipping away. I also have the luck that I can pretty quickly remember what’s going on and who goes where. Perhaps because I haven’t written so many books yet – around 15 – that I can keep them all in my head. But I’ve always been able to pick up books I’m reading and continue after a break, for example when I’m reading a few books at the same time.

Can you discuss any themes or messages you hope readers take away from your book?

The theme is the struggles we all go through as we try to figure out who and what we are and want to by, and the greater struggles that confront our children’s generation in today’s world of environmental breakdown. As kids, Nicki, Mark and Ashton should not really have to worry about these illegal brushfires. The police should be able to stop it, or at least the neighbours of the farmers setting the fires should shame them into burning their land during the permitted seasons. But as we all know, our kids will have to pay for our inability to do the right thing and to solve the crises we and our parents’ generation created.

On the other hand, they do have an easier time, in general, being accepted for who they are (at least in the places I’ve lived and worked with teens – Dublin, Madrid, Boston and Pamplona). Perhaps that’s the only good thing we’ve done for them. I only hope they are able to fight hard enough to get environmental justice from the powers set on getting richer by ruining our lands.

Can you discuss any other genres you have written in and if you have plans to write in other genres in the future?

I write in several genres. Apart from my werewolf trilogy, I’ve a novel for younger readers – age 8 to 10 – about Leprechauns in Ireland, another YA novel, which is a kind of ghost story, a contemporary novel about friendship and a novel set in Loch Ness. I have also written a few erotic romance novellas under the name JD Martins. I suppose there is an element of science fiction in many of them – not quite as clearly as in my WIP about aliens – in that I try to use my knowledge of science, especially biology, to explain things that are usually the real of fantasy. I don’t really like the idea of writing the same kind of story all the time, so my work to date has been a bit eclectic.

Can you discuss any literary influences or inspirations that have shaped your writing?

Well, I’ve always been a big Hemmingway fan, though I can’t say I’ve ever tried to emulate his style – it would be just too difficult! I’ve always been very wordy in my works. I’ve been lucky enough to live in Pamplona and experience some of the places he visited around Spain, as well as visit his parent’s house outside Chicago and visit the Hemmingway Room in JFK library when I lived in Boston. In terms of the approach to writing genres, I’ve deep respect for Richard Adams, who seems to have just written the books he wanted to write without wondering about a market, and produced very varied, long novels that are just beautiful and a kind of Netherland you can get lost in for days.

How do you handle criticism and negative reviews?

I am lucky to be of an age where I don’t need to have a whole lot of likes and responses to my social media posts in order to feel good about myself. I’ve had a lot of apathy towards my writing from friends and family which toughens the skin! I’ve given work to friends for feedback and advice on technical things (for example on the Ecology of Lonesomeness, which features a wildlife biologist) and had to go ahead myself because I’d still be here waiting. I have some friends who’ve read all my books but others who I know never will. And once you get over that, criticism is easy enough to take – and ignore! My wife often tells me I should write better books, that my covers are tacky and I should let her guide me, but she’s never read any of the books! She read half my first one, but didn’t like the werewolf idea to begin with. She’s not a big reader anyway.

I don’t generally get bad reviews – trying to get more reviews is a greater problem. One negative review I did get for Leaving the Pack did sting a little because it criticized that the werewolves vandalized some property in revenge for mistreatment in a bar… when the potential for violence and ways to control and redirect it is an integral aspect of the story. It seems the reviewer was more accustomed to the romance werewolf novels that have watered down the violence and misunderstood my vision of the werewolf myth. Perhaps if she’d read the rest it might have been clearer to her. Ironically, one of her complaints was that there wasn’t enough sex – more emphasized in some shape shifter romances, I suppose – and in the first drafts I’d had lots of sex but ended up cutting much of it down to a minimum so it wouldn’t be so “typical.” Anyway, when I wrote Leading the Pack, the second novel, I had a character comment on a conversation in book club she attended to the lead character. One of the other ladies in the book club had said she didn’t like werewolf novels which were violent and he shakes his head in disbelief, replying that he spent his whole like trying to prevent killings, and not always successfully.

Can you discuss your experience with book promotion and advertising?

A lack of experience, I’d say… it’s been difficult and the little that I have done hasn’t been as effective as one would wish, as they say! I don’t have a budget to spend lots of money and I have little enough time to write that it pains me to spend it posting on social media, so I have to admit I’m quite deficient compared to other authors I know. On the other hand, I write for the joy of it, and I am patient. In the future I’ll perhaps have time and money to be more proactive. Books last forever.

Can you talk about any challenges you faced during the publishing process?

It took many years to get my first novel accepted for publication. Once it was accepted, though, by Tirgearr Publishing, the rest was easy. I’d a great editor, Lucy Felthouse, who got the book and the characters and encouraged me to complete the trilogy within a couple of years.

How do you balance your writing with other aspects of your life?

It’s pretty unbalanced! My wife has a busy career in biology research, and as a teacher I have plenty to keep me occupied, too, though the timetable gives me time to collect them from school and take them around to their activities, and look after the dinner and house. The writing is always at the back of my mind, and as I said, I can get bits and pieces done during the day. Usually, though, my poetry comes first – the poems are more demanding than the novels and insist on being written within a short time frame! On summer break I can get a lot done, though: we move to a family house in the countryside, and the kids are more independent playing with their cousins and I can get a few hours a day to myself. I wish I was one of these people who can get up at 6 am and do an hours writing before breakfast, but I generally take an hour to get my brain running in the morning to start with.


Nicky and her two new friends, Mark and Ash, spend spring racing their mountain bikes through south Dublin – both down hillsides and hitching rides from HGVs – and exploring their feelings towards one another. They’re aghast to one day find an illegal fire on the mountain, just set by a farmer. When the police say they can do nothing about it, the three determine to catch the culprit red-handed. But life is as complicated as love, and as Nicky comes to terms with this, she discovers that sometimes you have to accept whatever little victories come your way.


Writing Paranormal Fiction


Paranormal fiction is a genre of fiction that involves supernatural or paranormal phenomena. This type of fiction often includes ghosts, vampires, werewolves, witches, and other creatures of the supernatural realm. If you want to write paranormal fiction, here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Develop your concept and theme: Start by deciding on your story concept and theme. This is the idea that will drive your story forward. It could be anything from a haunted house to a vampire love story. Once you have your concept, think about what theme you want to explore. Is your story going to be about love, fear, or redemption? Having a clear idea of what you want to explore will help you stay focused as you write.
  2. Build your world: Next, you need to create the world in which your story takes place. This involves not only the physical setting but also the rules of the paranormal universe. Will your vampires be killed by sunlight? Can your ghosts interact with the living? The rules of your world should be consistent and make sense within the context of your story.
  3. Create your characters: Your characters are the heart of your story. Take time to develop them fully, giving them distinct personalities, backgrounds, and motivations. Make sure that their actions and decisions make sense within the context of the story and that they are consistent throughout.
  4. Establish the conflict: All stories need conflict, and paranormal fiction is no exception. Your conflict could be anything from a battle between two supernatural beings to a character struggling to come to terms with their own powers. Whatever it is, make sure that it is compelling and drives the story forward.
  5. Write with atmosphere: Paranormal fiction is all about atmosphere. You want to create a sense of unease and tension throughout your story. Use vivid descriptions and sensory details to transport your readers to your world. Make sure that your tone and language reflect the mood you want to create.
  6. Edit and revise: Once you have a first draft, take time to edit and revise your work. Look for plot holes, inconsistencies, and anything else that might detract from the story. Make sure that your characters are fully developed and that their actions make sense. Finally, make sure that your pacing is appropriate and that your story flows well.

Writing paranormal fiction can be an exciting and rewarding experience. By following these steps, you can create a story that engages readers and transports them to a world of supernatural wonders.

Different Types of Paranormal Fiction

There are various types of paranormal fiction, and here are a few popular ones:

  1. Ghost stories: These stories involve ghosts, spirits, or other supernatural entities that haunt a place or a person. They usually focus on a person’s experience with the supernatural, and the protagonist is often trying to understand or come to terms with the haunting.
  2. Vampire fiction: This type of paranormal fiction involves vampires, who are typically portrayed as immortal beings with superhuman strength and a thirst for blood. Vampire fiction often explores themes of power, mortality, and love.
  3. Werewolf fiction: Werewolves are another popular paranormal creature that appears in fiction. These stories often involve a person who transforms into a wolf-like creature during a full moon and the challenges they face in controlling their primal urges.
  4. Witchcraft and wizardry: These stories involve characters who have magical abilities and practice witchcraft or wizardry. These stories often take place in a world where magic is commonplace and follow the protagonist’s journey as they navigate their magical powers.
  5. Urban fantasy: This genre combines elements of paranormal fiction with elements of urban and contemporary fiction. These stories usually take place in a modern-day setting, and the protagonist is often an ordinary person who discovers a hidden world of supernatural creatures living among humans.
  6. Supernatural romance: This genre combines elements of romance with the paranormal. These stories often involve a human falling in love with a supernatural being, such as a vampire or werewolf.
  7. Paranormal mystery: This type of paranormal fiction involves a mystery or a crime that has a paranormal or supernatural element to it. The protagonist is usually a detective or an investigator who must use their knowledge of the paranormal to solve the case.

Most Popular Paranormal Fiction

It’s difficult to determine the most popular type of paranormal fiction at any given time, as popularity can fluctuate depending on current trends, new releases, and media adaptations. Some of the more popular paranormal fiction sub-genres that have enjoyed significant popularity in recent years include supernatural romance, urban fantasy, and witchcraft and wizardry.

 In particular, supernatural romance has been a consistent favorite among readers for many years. Popular series such as Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith has contributed to the genre’s continued popularity. Urban fantasy, which often combines elements of paranormal and mystery fiction with a contemporary setting, has also seen a surge in popularity in recent years, with series such as Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels achieving significant success.

The Future of Writing Paranormal Fiction

Paranormal fiction has been a popular genre for many years and continues to attract a dedicated fan base. While the popularity of the genre has fluctuated over time, it remains a viable and profitable area of publishing.

In recent years, many publishers have continued to acquire and release paranormal fiction titles, and there are still many readers who enjoy the genre. With the rise of self-publishing and digital publishing, there are also many opportunities for authors to publish their paranormal fiction independently and reach a wide audience.

That said, like all genres, the success of a paranormal fiction book depends on factors such as the quality of the writing, the strength of the plot, and the author’s ability to market their work. As with any genre, some books will succeed and others may not, but there is still a future for paranormal fiction in publishing for those who are passionate about the genre and willing to put in the work to create engaging stories.


Interview with Lori Soard, Owner of Promo Warriors


You know you need a presence on the internet. Most people turn to Google when looking for local companies. You may even have a beautiful website, but is the mobile responsiveness where it needs to be?

According to Statista, there are about 298 million smartphone users in the United

States, with numbers projected for 312 million by 2025. More than half of mobile device owners now use their phones to connect to the internet at least some of the time.



Can you tell us a bit about the history and mission of Promo Warriors, and what sets you apart from other companies offering similar services?

The premise behind Promo Warriors actually started back in 1996. I worked for many years promoting authors but eventually sold my companies to make time for some personal family matters, including ill relatives that needed additional care and my own children who were growing up way too quickly while I spent endless hours working.
Fast forward a few years, and I decided it was time to start back up my small business and help the handful of authors begging me to get back in the game and help them with promotions. I found, however, that half my clients were local small businesses. I eventually combined the websites I was using for promotion and came up with the name Promo Warriors to showcase all types of clients from small companies to established authors and artists.

I am trained in SEO best practices and social media marketing. The skills I’ve developed over the years and training from the last several years all ensure I can look at each individual client and come up with a plan for their website and digital marketing needs that fits within their budget. Sometimes we have to start small and add services as the person’s income grows. I have worked with dozens of authors and creatives, so I am adept at helping them stand out from the crowd. However, I also love working with small business owners and can spot at a glance what is and isn’t working. Analytics always tell the story, when you know how to study them and make necessary adjustments to get a better return on investment (ROI).

What kinds of services do you offer to writers, and how do you ensure that each client receives personalized attention and support?

I design basic websites and offer digital marketing, which includes a social media strategy, sponsored ads, or other exposure. Sometimes an author starts with one area and then expands and other times they combine all possibilities to try to reach the widest audience possible.

What I do for authors and small businesses is very similar, but the audience varies. I start by getting to know each new client. If I don’t feel we are a good match, I will be honest about it and refer them to someone else. Not every topic is one I know about and I’m not too proud to admit someone else might have a better handle on that area.

I have a very small team made up of a handful of trusted helpers I’ve worked with for many years. Although we are small, we try very hard to be present for our clients and help them in an emergency. I have authors who only purchase hosting from me, pay me occasionally to do updates or who pay me to manage their site, social media, content and promotions. I don’t base who I choose to work with on budget size but on how much I think I can help them with their needs.

What are some of the most common challenges that writers face when seeking to publish or promote their work, and how does Promo Warriors help them address these obstacles?

The marketplace is very crowded now with how easy it is for anyone to self-publish or smaller presses to get in the game. This is both a positive and a negative at the same time. It’s a positive because there are some truly excellent indie books that would otherwise go unpublished. It’s a negative because there is so much noise out there it can be hard for readers to “hear” what you have to say.

I’m highly familiar with some of the more popular fiction genres and non-fiction categories. I know what hits the bestseller lists and what those authors are doing to help spur on sales. While you can never guarantee a marketing campaign will be a success, we do know what it takes and will also monitor it in real time and make adjustments as needed.

For websites, there are some things readers expect that it’s important to include. There are other things you should no longer waste precious time on. While blogs are fun and I’m guilty of keeping mine going just because of myself – I need to rethink this – they aren’t very effective these days at driving sales unless you already have a huge following.

How do you stay up-to-date with trends and changes in the publishing industry, and how do you help writers navigate this rapidly evolving landscape?

I read around 25 to 30 articles a week on technology, publishing, marketing and SEO. I follow the top publications in these categories and also have Google alerts set to notify me of new articles published. My team meets once a quarter and we share what we’ve discovered and how to apply it to client’s sites and marketing. The most popular topic at the moment seems to be ChatGPT and how it’s changing the way writing and marketing teams work. While I don’t believe a bot will ever replace the creative aspects of what writers do, the program is interesting for planning out some of our campaign work and helping us brainstorm the more technical aspects. I’m having fun with ChatGPT right now and currently trying out Google’s alternative—Bard.

How do you work with writers to establish a timeline for their projects, and how do you ensure that they stay on track throughout the process?

This is one of our greatest challenges with new clients, especially when it comes to building a website. While we can write a bio until it shines, we can’t write it if the person doesn’t send us the answers to questions or details we need.

In the initial stages of design, there is a lot we need to know. We have to understand what colors the person likes best, get an idea of website designs they enjoy, know about their books, and figure out what their future plans are, so we can create a site that isn’t dated in two months and gather up books, descriptions and other information.

Sometimes authors come to us for a website design and they haven’t published a book yet. We’re happy to work with new authors, but if they don’t send us the details we need, we can’t just grab it off Amazon when it isn’t published yet.

For marketing, we have to know what the author has already tried and what’s been successful. There is no point in throwing more money at things that haven’t worked. We usually ask questions about their current reader base and who they think their ideal reader is.

How do you handle sensitive or confidential information related to a writer’s work or personal life, and what steps do you take to protect their privacy?

I don’t share anything I know with anyone else ever. We don’t keep digital records of personal details in the cloud. I have an old-fashioned file folder in a locked file cabinet in my office. I write down things I need to know but no one else needs to know.

I also don’t keep sensitive details in databases or keep information on clients who’ve left for whatever reason. There are a lot of data protection regulations in effect these days, so I try to abide by those and put anti-virus and firewalls in place.

Sometimes my clients share difficult moments in their lives with me because you do establish friendships and working relationships over time. I do not share that info with anyone else. It isn’t mine to share.

I am a Christian, so I will offer to pray for them if they want prayer. I might also check in on them and see how they’re doing via email or a quick message.

What are some of the most successful projects that you have worked on as a company, and what do you think contributed to their success?

I love almost every site we’ve ever designed. They each show the personality of the author or small business so perfectly. One thing I do is come up with an initial idea and send some images/design mockups for feedback. This is crucial to getting the final design to something the person loves.

Next, I go ahead and finish up the design. Then, I have the person look at it but instruct them to not respond to me for a few days. I want them to go back and look a few times, check it on their phone, and then let me know what they HONESTLY love and hate. One thing I highly discourage is for them to get feedback from their friends and family. Everyone has a different opinion and truly it only matters if the website reflects what the client’s tastes are and if it speaks to their target audience. They are the best professional opinion they’ll find on what they love in a website.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you face as a company, and how do you overcome these obstacles to provide the best possible service to your clients?

Time is always a challenge. As a small team, we each have a role and only so many hours in the day. I never want to become stretched so thin that my clients’ needs aren’t met. There are times, I close the door on taking on any new clients. I don’t want someone to have to wait weeks on end for their mockups. I could hire more designers but I’m a little bit of a control freak and I’m never quite happy with the work others do and I put my name on, so I instead try to keep things rather small and intimate.

How do you approach marketing and promotion for the writers you work with, and what strategies have you found to be most effective?

I don’t share this as it is part of what brings value to Promo Warriors, but even if I did share it, the strategies vary from author to author and business to business. I can create a marketing campaign for two authors in the romance genre and they will wind up being completely different because the audiences and author personalities are varied.

I will say that I am not into forcing authors to do things they hate and aren’t comfortable with. If you despise an online book tour and you don’t want to make videos for Facebook, I’m not going to have you do that. There are plenty of other things we can focus on to build your name inexpensively.

What advice would you give to writers who are just starting out, and how can they best position themselves for success in today’s publishing landscape?

Review what you’re doing every three months. The publishing world changes rapidly these days. To stay on top of trends and get the word out, you have to keep an ear to the ground and figure out who your competitors are and what they’re doing. You don’t want to copy them but you need to be aware so you can form your own strategies.

Every three months, throw out whatever isn’t working and add in something else you think might work. Study all your analytics and see which keywords, formats and messages resonate with your audience. Or, you could just hire me to do all that and we’ll review it together each quarter.

Interview with JoAnn Durgin, Owner/Designer at Book Covers by JoAnn

Please join me for my first Author/Writer Related Services Interview. The plan is to mix these with the author interviews on Saturdays. Beginning this week, every other Saturday there will be an Authors/Writer Related Service Interview and the next Saturday will be an Author’s Interview. Enjoy!


JoAnn Durgin, owner/designer of JoAnn’s Book Cover Design is a USA Today Bestselling Author of over forty novels and lives in her native “Kentuckiana” (the “Sunny Side of Louisville”). She was named one of the “35 Essential Christian Romance Authors” in 2018 by Family Fiction Magazine.

See contact information below. JoAnn prefers to be contacted either through her Facebook or Etsy Store



Can you tell us a bit about the history and mission of JoAnn’s Book Cover Design, and what sets you apart from other companies offering similar services?

I’ve been a published author with over forty books, and I love the process of working with a designer on a book cover. I come from a family of professional photographers, and I like to believe I have “an eye” for knowing what works well. A few years ago, I began writing a series under a pseudonym and tried my hand at designing the covers. Thankfully, the reader response was overwhelmingly positive. Since I’m an author myself, I’m sensitive to an author’s need for a great cover without spending a fortune, so my prices are very reasonable.

 I set up a FB page for book design a number of months ago, but it’s only in the past couple of months that I’ve concentrated on promoting it. The demand has grown quickly to the point where I’m neglecting my writing (a nice problem to have)! I’m thrilled that all my clients have been repeat customers.

What kinds of services do you offer to writers, and how do you ensure that each client receives personalized attention and support?

I offer premade eBook covers which I then customize per the client’s request (unlimited mockups). This is accomplished through frequent communication. When a final design is agreed upon, at the client’s request, I can provide a 300 dpi high-quality resolution image (or higher, if needed) as well as jpgs suitable for RGB use (digital) and CMYK (professional printing) for full wraps or marketing/advertising purposes. I can also search for images and design a cover on spec; it helps tremendously if the client provides examples of images or a description of what they’d like).

How do you evaluate a writer’s needs and goals, and how do you tailor your services to meet their specific requirements?

If an author is published, I look at their books online to get a sense of their preferences in terms of color, design, subject matter, elements, and style. Often the covers are dictated by genre, but I have several clients who write in multiple genres. Once I’ve worked with clients once or twice, it becomes a much easier (and quicker) process. I always work closely with clients to achieve the “perfect” cover for their needs.

What are some of the most common challenges that writers face when seeking to publish or promote their work, and how does JoAnn’s Book Cover Design help them address these obstacles?

Many cover designers have raised their prices in today’s challenging economy. Higher costs are daunting for many authors, so I hope to bridge the gap by providing high-quality covers at a very affordable price. As an author, I know the hard work that goes into writing, and a great cover is crucial since it’s the first thing most potential readers see. Some designers can also be booked months in advance, but I offer a one or two-day turnaround.

How do you stay up-to-date with trends and changes in the publishing industry, and how do you help writers navigate this rapidly evolving landscape?

I primarily design covers suitable for sweet and clean, inspirational, and Christian covers. What works for most of my clients is a tried-and-true “classic” cover design, no matter the genre. Of course, if they request something specific, I’ll be happy to work with them. My design page on Facebook primarily offers romance covers, but I’ve opened a new Etsy store where I also showcase covers for genres such as fantasy, women’s fiction, time travel, holiday fiction, young adult, and new adult.

Can you walk us through the process of working with a writer from start to finish, and what kind of communication and feedback can they expect from your team?

My clients come to me directly and then we’re off and running! Much of our contact is done through messaging on social media. I will send them a mockup of a premade cover, or a mockup of a cover they’ve requested, for feedback. We go back and forth until we achieve their vision for their book cover. Once covers are finalized, they’re sent to the client via a digital file to their email address.

How do you work with writers to establish a timeline for their projects, and how do you ensure that they stay on track throughout the process?

I respond to clients in a very short turnaround time (one or two days). One of my first questions I ask clients is for their timeline since needs can vary widely. I stay in contact with them throughout the process, taking care not to overwhelm them. Sometimes they need time to mull over options and make decisions.

How do you handle sensitive or confidential information related to a writer’s work or personal life, and what steps do you take to protect their privacy?

I am privy to pre-release covers and plots, and protecting the privacy and confidentiality of my clients is my top priority. When someone buys a book cover I’ve designed, they can be assured that no one else will see or hear about their cover until the reveal and/or release of the book.

What are some of the most successful projects that you have worked on as a company, and what do you think contributed to their success?

I recently designed covers for a six-book series for a client using the same cover model (three novels and three novellas). The client is very pleased and plans on moving up the release date (or revealing the covers earlier than planned) because she’s so inspired by them. We were consistent with the covers (author name, title, and design elements) that tied them together beautifully.

How do you approach marketing and promotion for the writers you work with, and what strategies have you found to be most effective?

I work closely with authors to make sure I understand their goals and their vision. I want them to be thrilled with their book cover(s) and a repeat customer! Since I offer premade covers, authors often buy one, and then it sparks the inspiration for a series. My quick turnaround time fosters a great relationship and confidence in my dedication to their project.

What advice would you give to writers who are just starting out, and how can they best position themselves for success in today’s publishing landscape?

Write the best story you can and find a great cover! Whether you choose a cover early and use it for inspiration while writing, or pick one later in the process, your cover can make or break a book and its sales. Everyone has different tastes and there are many genres and stylistic preferences for covers, but it’s to an author’s long-term advantage to find a cover that best represents his/her content. I’d advise writers not to worry about trends unless it’s what works for the theme(s) of a particular book.


Writing Tropes in Romantic Suspense

Romantic suspense is a genre that blends the elements of romance and suspense. It typically involves a romantic relationship between the protagonist and antagonist, as well as a high level of tension and danger. Tropes are commonly used in this genre to help create the desired atmosphere and storyline. Here are some steps to follow when writing tropes in a romantic suspense novel:

  1. Determine the desired tone and atmosphere: The first step in writing tropes for a romantic suspense novel is to determine the desired tone and atmosphere of the story. Will it be dark and brooding, or light and playful? Will it have a lot of action and suspense, or will it be more focused on the romance? The answers to these questions will help determine which tropes will work best for your story.
  2. Choose your romantic tropes: Once you have determined the tone and atmosphere of the story, it’s time to choose the romantic tropes you want to include. There are many tropes that work well in romantic suspense, such as enemies-to-lovers, forbidden love, and second-chance romance. Choose the ones that best fit your story and characters.
  3. Choose your suspense tropes: In addition to romantic tropes, you will also want to include suspense tropes to help create the desired level of tension and danger. Some popular suspense tropes include the ticking time bomb, the race against the clock, and the hero in peril. Again, choose the tropes that best fit your story and characters.
  4. Weave the tropes together: The next step is to weave the tropes together to create a cohesive and compelling story. The romantic tropes should be integrated into the larger plot, and the suspense tropes should be used to raise the stakes and keep the reader on edge. Make sure that the tropes work together seamlessly and that they enhance the overall story.
  5. Add your own twists: Finally, don’t be afraid to add your own twists to the tropes. While tropes are helpful for creating a framework for your story, you don’t want to rely too heavily on them. Adding your own unique spin to the tropes can help make your story stand out and keep readers engaged.

Writing tropes in a romantic suspense novel involves determining the desired tone and atmosphere, choosing the appropriate tropes, weaving them together, and adding your own twists. By following these steps, you can create a compelling and engaging story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

How Do Tropes in Romantic Suspense Differ from Other Romance Genres

Writing tropes in romantic suspense differ from other romance genres in a few key ways. While many romance novels share similar tropes, such as the love triangle, the fake relationship, and the friends-to-lovers plotline, the use of these tropes in romantic suspense is distinct.

Here are some ways in which writing tropes in romantic suspense differs from other romance genres:

  1. The presence of danger: Romantic suspense novels include an element of danger that is not typically present in other romance genres. This danger can come in the form of physical threats, such as a stalker or a murderer, or it can be more subtle, such as the threat of secrets being exposed. This danger creates a heightened level of tension and raises the stakes for the characters’ romantic relationship.
  2. The balance between romance and suspense: In romantic suspense, the balance between the romantic plotline and the suspense plotline is critical. While other romance genres may focus more heavily on the romantic relationship, romantic suspense must maintain a careful balance between the two plotlines. If the suspense plotline becomes too dominant, the romance can feel forced or out of place. Conversely, if the romance plotline takes over, the suspense can feel like an afterthought.
  3. The use of tropes to create tension: Tropes are used differently in romantic suspense than in other romance genres. In romantic suspense, tropes are used to create tension and heighten the danger. For example, the trope of the hero in peril can be used to create a sense of urgency and raise the stakes for the romantic relationship.
  4. The resolution of the plotlines: In romantic suspense, the resolution of the plotlines is often more complex than in other romance genres. The romantic plotline and the suspense plotline must both be resolved in a way that is satisfying to the reader. This can be challenging, as the resolution of one plotline can impact the resolution of the other.

Writing tropes in romantic suspense differs from other romance genres in the presence of danger, the balance between romance and suspense, the use of tropes to create tension, and the resolution of the plotlines. These elements make romantic suspense a unique and exciting genre for both readers and writers.

Types of Tropes Used in Romantic Suspense

There are several tropes commonly used in the romantic suspense genre. These tropes are often used to create tension and suspense, while also developing the romantic relationship between the main characters. Here are some of the most popular tropes used in the romantic suspense genre:

  1. Enemies-to-lovers: In this trope, the main characters start out as enemies or adversaries, but gradually develop feelings for each other as they work together to overcome a common threat.
  2. Second chance romance: This trope involves two characters who were previously in a romantic relationship but separated for some reason. They are given a second chance to rekindle their romance as they work together to solve a mystery or overcome a danger.
  3. Fake relationship: In this trope, the main characters pretend to be in a romantic relationship for some reason, such as to deceive a villain or to maintain a cover. However, their fake relationship eventually becomes real as they fall in love.
  4. Protective hero: In this trope, the hero is fiercely protective of the heroine, often putting himself in danger to keep her safe. This trope creates a sense of danger and suspense, as the hero works to protect the heroine from harm.
  5. Amnesia: This trope involves one of the main characters losing their memory and having to work with the other character to recover it. This creates a sense of mystery and suspense, as the characters try to uncover the truth behind the memory loss.
  6. Forbidden love: This trope involves a romantic relationship that is forbidden for some reason, such as being between a boss and an employee or between two people from different social classes. The tension and danger come from the societal or personal pressures that make the relationship difficult.
  7. Stalker or obsession: This trope involves a character being stalked or obsessed over by someone, creating a sense of danger and suspense. The romantic relationship often develops as the characters work to overcome the threat.

These tropes can be used in combination or separately to create a compelling romantic suspense story. They are often used to develop the romantic relationship between the characters, while also creating a sense of tension and danger that keeps the reader engaged.


Interview Beem Weeks, Author of The Thing About Kevin!


Beem Weeks is an author, editor, blogger, podcast host, and audio/video producer. He has written many short stories, essays, poems, and the historical fiction/coming of age novel entitled Jazz Baby. Beem has also released Slivers of Life: A Collection of Short Stories and Strange Hwy: Short Stories, and the novella The Thing About Kevin. He is a lifelong native of Michigan, USA.


Can you tell us a little about your background?

I am a lifelong Michigander, born and raised. I spent two years living in Ft. Myers, Florida, in the 1980s.

How did you get started as an author?

I’ve been writing since I was eight years old. I co-wrote a play that was performed for the entire school in fifth grade. Once in high school, I wrote a music column for the school newspaper. From the first time I learned to read, I’ve been a voracious reader. Reading helped fuel my desire to write.

Can you talk about your latest book and the inspiration behind it?

My most recently published work is a mystery thriller set in Chicago. It’s a shorter read, at just over seven thousand words. A young man named Jacob returns home for his father’s funeral. Dad was a mob man, part of the local mafia. The oldest son walked out of the house more than thirty years earlier, and just disappeared. Talk is, he may return for the funeral. Secrets begin to spill; life isn’t what Jacob remembers. When the truth finally comes out, his family may never be the same. The inspiration for this one came from my desire to write a mystery thriller, since I usually work in coming of age or historical fiction. 

How do you approach the writing process? Do you have a specific routine or method?

I am a plotter. I outline my stories. They usually begin with a simple idea that I’ll jot down on a Post-It note or in a notebook. Once I begin to work on it, I’ll close myself off in my office/bedroom, and I’ll begin to outline the story. Once I know where it starts and where it ends, I map out the road between. Once I have a general idea of what the story will look like, I’ll begin writing. I don’t have a special process or routine, though I do require silence.  

Can you share any challenges you faced during the writing process of your latest book?

I can’t really say there were any challenges. I’ve been writing most of my life, I tend to just plow ahead. I do find that my writing time has been limited in recent years, simply for the fact that I’m busy with my day job—editing other writers’ work.

How do you develop your characters and bring them to life on the page?

Often, it’s the characters that come to me first. I’m a people watcher, so ideas are all over the place. I’ll hear an accent or a stutter that works for a character. There might be a limp or a nervous habit that fills out a personality. The idea is to make the characters so real, the reader will feel they know this person—or somebody just like him or her.

Can you discuss your research process for your latest book?

Research is vital to a good story. It’s one of my favorite parts in the creative process. I write a lot of stories set in past decades. If the story is set in the 1920s, obviously I need to know what that era was like, since I wasn’t around back then. I use Google and various websites to address any questions I need answered. If you’re telling the story of a man living in, say, 1977, you need to understand smart phones and apps and the internet didn’t exist back then. It also helps to know the popular television programs of the day, the common vernacular, clothing fashions, music, fads. There is a lot to consider when crafting reality from fiction.

How do you handle writer’s block and overcome creative obstacles?

I’ve never encountered writer’s block. There are days where I’m just not motivated, but writer’s block has never been an issue. For those who may suffer from this issue, I suggest stepping away from the story and letting the mind rest for a period of time. Then, sit down and read what you’ve written from the beginning.

Can you share any upcoming projects or books you are working on?

I am currently working on two novels, several short stories, and the outline for the sequel to my first novel Jazz Baby. The two novels currently in progress are set in 1910 and 1977. In 1910, a young woman becomes involved in the suffragette movement. She’s a free spirit who just wants to see the world around her and face life on her own terms. But family secrets tug her toward a showdown with the very people she loves most in this world. One mistake will change the trajectory of her life. The story set in 1977 is perhaps my best—as far as plot is concerned. A nine-year-girl from West Memphis, Arkansas, lives with her grandmother and tests at a genius level. While on summer break from school, she works with her grandmother cleaning houses for wealthy people across the river in Memphis, Tennessee. It is during one of these jobs that she is tapped to fill in for a young model during a photo shoot for a department store catalog. The photos, and a trip to New York City, will put her on a collision course with a truth that will forever change her life, and the lives of those around her. One of these projects will hopefully be finished before summer.

Can you talk about your experience working with a publisher or literary agent?

I don’t have an agent. I honestly see little need for one in the publishing world today. I work with publisher Fresh Ink Group to get my work in front of readers. It’s a good fit for me. I tell them what I want, they make it happen. They’ve opened my work to worldwide outlets other than Amazon.   

How do you stay motivated and disciplined while writing?

Basically, I write when I feel like it. I don’t write just to reach a daily word count. When I write, it needs to mean something. It must be important to the story I’m working on. I’m disciplined in that I plot my stories. I edit as I write. I employ the dreaded re-write when needed. But motivation comes with belief in whatever I’m writing. If I believe the story has potential, I’m motivated to see it to the finish line. In a nutshell, if a writer enjoys their current work, that should be motivation enough. Excitement comes from the creative process. Excitement equals motivation—at least to me.  

Can you discuss any themes or messages you hope readers take away from your book?

Many of my stories carry a coming-of-age theme. We all start out as simple lumps of clay. Over time, we’re molded by our families, our teachers, our environments. I try to convey that idea of growing up under uncertain circumstances in my stories. We have dreams and aspirations almost as soon as we learn to walk and talk. Often, those dreams fail to materialize. We change or, maybe, our circumstances change. There will be disappointments galore as we travel this life. I want to capture those growing pains in my characters. I hope readers can relate to the struggles of my characters. 

How do you market your book and connect with readers?

Social media is a huge part of the marketing process. There are so many platforms available. Some work better than others. The world is literally at our fingertips today. Interacting with readers and other writers online really helps bring about name recognition. I’m still learning after more than a decade of working our craft.

Can you share any advice for aspiring authors on how to get published?

I don’t believe in the term aspiring writer. One is either a writer or they are not. There are many fine unpublished writers in the world today. Getting published is easy today. My advice to those who are seeking to publish is to be certain your work is the best it can be. I’m not just talking about punctuation and spelling—though those are incredibly important. Understanding Point of View in your narration is vital. Who is telling your story? Head-hopping is a sure way to lose readers. Choosing a tense and sticking with it is important. Don’t slip between past tense and present tense. I’ve seen that. It ain’t pretty! Learn strong dialogue for your characters. The best way to do that is to be a listener. Hear those around you, the way they speak, the cadence of their sentences, their choice of words and slang, their accents. Consider using beta readers who are NOT also writers. A reader can offer a whole other take than can a writer.  

Can you discuss any other genres you have written in and if you have plans to write in other genres in the future?

I write primarily in coming of age and historical fiction, but I may try other genres at some point. I may even try science fiction or dystopian.

Can you discuss any literary influences or inspirations that have shaped your writing?

My biggest literary influences are those who write with feeling and truth. The stories may be dark with shades of light—just like real life. Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorites. Her novel The Poisonwood Bible is a master lesson in writing Point of View and dialogue. The Poisonwood Bible happens to be my all-time favorite novel. Daniel Woodrell is also brilliant at creating reality in his characters and situations. Read his Winter’s Bone or Tomato Red for a lesson in strong southern dialect and old-school storytelling. Real life events have also shaped my writing. There may be elements of people I’ve known embedded in some of my characters. Situations I’ve witnessed in the real world may add color and tone to scenes in some of my stories. It happens that way sometimes.

Can you share any experiences you have had with book clubs or other reader groups?

I was part of a book club some years ago. I’ll just say, I’m glad I’m no longer involved. I’ve interacted with some reader groups over the years. Those can be useful in discovering new authors and books.

How do you handle criticism and negative reviews?

Reviews are just opinions. You’re never going to write something that everybody loves. If the majority enjoy it, consider that a win. I don’t take a negative review to heart. It just represents a reader who didn’t connect with my characters or stories. As writers, we can’t take reviews to heart—good or bad. I just write the stories and let others form opinions of them.

Can you discuss your experience with book promotion and advertising?

I’ve used some Google ads and Amazon ads over the years. I can’t say they really did much to up my sales. Other than those two outlets, I really haven’t advertised. I use social media mostly. It helps, though it isn’t a magic bullet.

Can you talk about any challenges you faced during the publishing process?

I really haven’t faced any challenges. As I mentioned before, I use Fresh Ink Group. They’ve seen a lot over the past 25 years. When issues arise, they usually have a plan.

How do you balance your writing with other aspects of your life?

Unfortunately, there are days when I don’t write. I have to prioritize work over writing. But it does balance out. Eventually, my projects reach the finish line and I publish them. It works for me without driving me batty.


Jacob Radner returns to his suburban Chicago roots to bury his departed father. The family is all there—except for older brother Kevin. Thirty-seven years earlier, Kevin Radner walked out the front door and vanished. Will this prodigal son return and finally make peace with the ghost of his mobster father? As the patriarch’s body is lowered into the earth, long-hidden family secrets become uncovered: a former girlfriend, a child born out of wedlock and adopted out, a mother willfully blind to the sins of the father. In this novella, author Beem Weeks examines the notion that sometimes those closest to us are the very ones we should fear most.

Interview with Stephen Geez, Author of Comes This Time to Float!


Retired TV producer and composer/producer of music for television, Stephen Geez has mellowed into the lakeside-living life of a writer, editor, graphic-artist, and Fresh Ink Group publisher. His work includes novels, short fiction, personal-experience essays, blogs, GeezWriter How-To material for authors, podcasts, video scripts, marketing content, and more.


Can you tell us a little about your background?

I grew up in the Detroit suburbs, multi-degreed at the University of Michigan, spent seven years growing a non-profit training at-risk people, then transitioned into television producer and composer/producer of music for television. I started writing stories young, did traditional publishing, got fed up with traditional publishing and founded Fresh Ink Group in 1995 to publish my books and my friends’. Writing, publishing, cover design, editing, trailer and audiobook production, and marketing out the wazoo are what I do now.

How did you get started as an author?

I wrote stories when young, then later started writing novels to flex my fiction muscles while producing non-fiction television. I did a second B.A. at Michigan in literature, as that literary itch is powerful.

Can you talk about your latest book and the inspiration behind it?

Comes this Time to Float is a collection of 19 short stories written over several decades. They vary widely in genre and style. Each opens with a short explanation from me about why/when/how that story came about. Two audio-shorts read by me with music and sound effects are in the Fresh Ink Group channel on YouTube: “Bus, Boy” and “Sidekick.” This is my only collection of short fiction, following a collection of mini-memoirs.

How do you approach the writing process? Do you have a specific routine or method?

I am a hardcore outliner. When you write for television, you have to work with pieces than can be arranged, timed, and adapted. I write fiction the same way. I’ll start with the first scene or two to refine whatever new style I’m using while at the same time spending a few months honing that outline. Then I write, knowing everything that has to happen in each scene, which frees me to be creative with my techniques. I edit scenes as they are done. After a handful of chapters, I’ll re-read from the start for flow and pace and style variations, continuing to edit. At some point, I’ll read my scenes aloud to Beem Weeks for feedback, then send it all to the layout team while I work on the covers. Nobody else sees my work before it is published.

How do you develop your characters and bring them to life on the page?

As an outliner, I do make character notes, but not in detail. Instead, I’ll spend time thinking about them and how they would act in the situations I intend for them.

How do you handle writer’s block and overcome creative obstacles?

Not to sound crass, but I don’t understand the concept. Seriously, I could spend the rest of my life writing ideas I have in a single day. Is someone who can’t think of anything to say really a writer?

Can you share any upcoming projects or books you are working on?

I am halfway through writing a novel called How It Turns Out, which alternates three points-of-view, including an old man who is descending into dementia. In November 2021 a goofus I now refer to as “Defendant” totaled my car and fractured both of my hands badly. Both have permanent damage and limit my capabilities, not as much what I can do as how long (and how painfully) it takes me to work. Since Fresh Ink Group’s scores of authors are most important, I’ve shelved the novel until someday when I can spend the time it needs.

Can you talk about your experience working with a publisher or literary agent?

 My agent experiences were great, except for losing my favorite to cancer. Traditional publishers, not good at all. Being lied to or misled, promises unfulfilled, zero control over any aspect of the final product, pricing issues, and availability had me ready to move on. Then my contract got sold to a Canadian publisher as a package deal and I backed away, instead turning my literary management “Fresh Ink” into Fresh Ink Group, LLC, a full-service multi-media publisher. My experiences working with myself and my team are scintillating!

How do you stay motivated and disciplined while writing?

I have things to say, and that’s the only way they get said. Sometimes poignant feedback can be affirming, too.

Can you discuss any themes or messages you hope readers take away from your book?

Well, there are nineteen widely different ones, as my thing is that every time I write something it has to be a new style and techniques for me. The trailer does a good job showing the variety of themes: Note: we usually hire pro voiceovers, but this one is narrated by me to match the audio-shorts.

How do you market your book and connect with readers?

At FIG we are big on support materials, a quality video trailer, a radio commercial, packages of social-media posts, plus the usual blog tours, appearances, podcast guesting, and so on. We have an 18-year-old influencer on staff who blankets social media for me and all of our authors. This interview will be my best effort today! (Thanks, Kim.)

Can you share any advice for aspiring authors on how to get published?

I like hybrid publishers. The author invests some to have skin in the game and retain control and ownership. The publisher invests some. Everybody works together. Talk to writers you like and compare their experiences, costs, and results. Those who still want to try for an agent and a traditional contract should note that authors are expected to show a track record, have a platform with built-in audience, and have other support to get the attention of a quality agent. I know one who says if you self-publish and can’t sell 10,000, she’s not interested. That’s sad, really, as that’s likely more a marketing limitation, but the competition is severe.

Can you discuss any other genres you have written in and if you have plans to write in other genres in the future?

I think by now all except erotica/porn—not that I don’t have a steamy scene or two in some novels. I like literary levels of any genre.

Can you discuss any literary influences or inspirations that have shaped your writing?

My lit degree opened the world to me. After that, it’s reading and recognizing quality work. My teen years were mostly about sci-fi, but now I’m a literary reader. You can’t read a book by Edmund White, A.M. Homes, Barbara Kingsolver, and their ilk and not learn.

How do you handle criticism and negative reviews?

I see if there’s anything useful there. Normally a sack of flaming dog poop on the porch makes my point.

Can you discuss your experience with book promotion and advertising?

This is way too big a question for a short answer. I’m lucky to have enough authors and several hundred titles to have a support team. One big point: I prefer and do better paying someone to help work free channels than I do paying for advertising.

How do you balance your writing with other aspects of your life?

This is tough, as I’m a few months from 65. My plan had me easing back from cover design and other FIG work by now to spend more time writing and composing music. I’d hired an engineer to work with me on recording an album, but his start day would have been two days after the car wreck busted my hands. So right now my balance is keeping up with FIG author needs while my novel and music hold. I do make it a point to travel and attend concerts, plays, symphonies, etc. I skip reading books I want in lieu of working on books by FIG authors. Still, someday I’ll finish How It Turns Out and we’ll all see how it turned out.

Prepare to think as you explore these wildly disparate literary short stories by author, composer, and producer Stephen Geez. Avoiding any single genre, this collection showcases Geez’s storytelling from southern gothic to contemporary drama to coming-of-age, humor, sci-fi, and fantasy—all finessed to say something about who we are and what we seek. Some of these have been passed around enough to need a shot of penicillin, others so virgin they have never known the seductive gaze of a reader’s eyes. So when life’s currents get to pulling too hard, don’t fight it, just open the book and discover nineteen new ways of going with the flow, because NOW more than ever Comes this Time to Float.

The Trailer and Two Audioshorts from the Book


“Bus, Boy”:




The Process of Editing and Revising a Novel for Publication

Editing and revising a novel is an essential process in preparing it for publication. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you understand the process of editing and revising a novel for publication:

  1. Take a break: After completing the first draft, take a break from the manuscript for a few days or weeks. This break will allow you to come back to the manuscript with fresh eyes.
  2. Read through the manuscript: Read through the manuscript carefully, noting any inconsistencies, plot holes, or areas that need improvement. Make a list of these issues.
  3. Address plot and character issues: Address any plot or character issues identified during the read-through. Make sure that the plot flows logically, the characters are well-developed, and their motivations are clear.
  4. Revise for structure and pacing: Once the plot and character issues have been addressed, revise the manuscript for structure and pacing. Check that the beginning grabs the reader’s attention, the middle is engaging, and the end is satisfying.
  5. Edit for grammar and punctuation: Once you are happy with the overall structure and pacing of the manuscript, start editing for grammar and punctuation errors. Pay attention to sentence structure, spelling, and grammar mistakes. Use tools like Grammarly to help you identify issues.
  6. Solicit feedback: After making initial revisions, solicit feedback from beta readers or a writing group. Take their feedback into account and make any necessary changes.
  7. Hire a professional editor: Consider hiring a professional editor to edit the manuscript. They will provide objective feedback and help you identify areas that need improvement.
  8. Finalize: After making all the necessary revisions, read through the manuscript one final time to ensure that it is polished and error-free. Consider hiring a proofreader to ensure that there are no lingering errors.
  9. Submit for publication: Once you are happy with the manuscript, submit it for publication. Be prepared to make further revisions based on feedback from publishers or agents.

Editing and revising a novel for publication is a process that requires patience, persistence, and attention to detail. By following these steps, you can ensure that your manuscript is polished, engaging, and ready for publication. Remember that the editing process can take time, so be prepared to revise your manuscript as many times as necessary to ensure that it is the best it can be.

Interview with Verwayne Greenhoe, Author of Finding Myself Again!


Born and raised in West Michigan, author Verwayne Greenhoe spent the last seven years in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. After freezing his keister off, he and his wife moved to Florida in late 2021 to spend more time writing and less time shivering. Author of multiple stories, genres, & formats including 28 Audible books & counting, Greenhoe spends his free time working in his backyard, plotting on where his next story will go.


Can you tell us a little about your background?

Raised on a small dairy farm in west central Michigan, the oldest of six kids, I enjoyed working with the cattle and other animals. I learned to drive a tractor at eight, and was hauling hay and straw in from the fields.

I graduated from high school and went to a small local community college before going to the University of Michigan, where I got a Bachelor’s in Biology and Psychology. I was one of the very first medics/paramedics in Michigan in early 1973.

After several years of that, I spend two years working in the psych ward of one of Michigan’s several prisons. THAT was a learning situation.

I got my nursing license and worked twenty-seven years in the Emergency Room before retiring.

How did you get started as an author?

Working on the farm with my father and grandfather, both of whom were notorious story tellers. I would spend many summer nights after the chores were done, listening to them tell tall tales of things that never happened, and they fascinated me! I began writing at seven. My first story was a total rip-off of the movie, “Bambi,” but I fabricated my wild tales in the fashion I had heard them told at the feet of my dad and grandpa as I got older.

Can you talk about your latest book and the inspiration behind it?

My latest complete story was also based on my childhood. While my father was a loving man, my mother was not. Due to head injuries she sustained as a teen, mom was never right. She spent more time screaming at her children than she did anything else. While she was an equal opportunity abuser, mom had a thing for me in particular. She would beat me (not discipline… she BEAT me) nearly every day of my youth. Sixty years later, I still bear the visible scars of her beatings.

“I Hate My Mother” is the story of how I came to forgive her and then learned to forgive myself. It was a personal nightmare reliving those days, but by the time I was done, I found the peace I had been seeking all of my life.

How do you approach the writing process? Do you have a specific routine or method?

Writing comes to me as easy as breathing. It is medicine for my mind. The signature line of my email account reads:

Writing is the only thing that I don’t feel I should be doing something else when I do it.

I will sit down in the morning and work on whatever project I was thinking about in my sleep. Most days, I will get 300 to 1500 words done in the morning and another 300 to 1500 in the evening.

I keep a list of possible story ideas in my email drafts, and a quick look shows me I have at least seventy-five stories I could write. Since Amazon came out with their Vella platform, I have been using it versus finishing a story and then uploading it.

Vella allows writers to serialize their stories in 600-5000 word episodes. I have found the best method is to upload at least three to five new episodes every week. I currently have five Vella projects in motion – two active and the other three are at least once every seven to ten days. Doing this allows me to avoid the dreaded *writer’s block.* Sometimes, you can be stymied on one project, but my brain is always ready to go on a different project.

Can you share any challenges you faced during the writing process of your latest book?
“I Hate My Mother” presented an unusual problem for me. I’ve worked as a medic, and I saw a lot of horrific stuff with no problems, but emotionally reliving the hatred, filthy language, emotional beat downs, and the physical injuries caused me to have terrible nightmares which did not stop until that story was done.

How do you develop your characters and bring them to life on the page?
I model my characters after people I know. If I am basing it on my nephew, *Jim,* that character will look like Jim, act like Jim, and react like Jim. My *bad man* characters are based on men I met while working on the prison. I do the same thing with my female characters. The story plots are based on things I read about, things I witnessed, or things that came to me in a dream.

Can you discuss your research process for your latest book?

Most of my stories are based on things I know about and have experienced, thus requiring very little research. But…  

I am currently writing a Vella project about the Singularity, the concept that humans and computers will become a single type unit. I did tons of research, but could not find much valid information… until I tried the ChatGPT bots.

After I learned to properly talk to them and ask the right questions, my bot (I named it George!) spat out mountains of information I wasn’t finding anywhere else. In a single one hour chat with George, he gave me over 6500 words of information of how a Singularity unit could go rogue and, after lecturing me about me using any information he was giving me could be “evil,” he began to spit out how a human could cause this to happen. 

This Vella is going to be a challenge, but once the foundation of the story is laid in, George and I have it covered.

How do you handle writer’s block and overcome creative obstacles?

Writer’s block is a very rare thing for me, but there are days when I just can’t get started. Those days are rare, but I have learned to get up, go outside and work in the yard. My body might be busy, but my brain is perking and fighting with itself, and when my next possible writing slot comes available, I am on it. The longest it has ever sidelined me with “block” is six days… the longest two months of my life! LOL.

Can you share any upcoming projects or books you are working on?

As mentioned above, I have my sci-fi Vella story, “Trouble in The Singularity” started with about ~3000 words. It is cooking as I work to explain how the error that occurs in 2035 will affect this Singularity unit to go rogue in 2089.

I also have a steady Vella titled , “Dealing With Grief.” As a medic and then an ER nurse, I have seen more than my share of grief, up close and personal.

Another Vella project is titled, “How I Keep Smiling in A World That Isn’t.” My dad always called me his kid that was always looking in the horse manure for the pony. (There’s a joke that goes with that name!) With all the horse manure life throws at me, I still keep smiling because there is nothing I can gain by crying about it.

I have another dystopian political Vella titled, “The American Storm.” Oddly enough, the man running a site that took over when Matt Drudge sold his site picked it up. I got a Twitter message from him a few weeks back that he had started reading the story, and had linked it on his site. Depending on what device you use, it is in the middle column at the bottom or the very bottom if using a cell phone. Check it out at Rantingly dot com.

One of my other Vella projects I sat aside when “I Hate My Mother” took off is titled, “A Knock On The Door.” It is a series of Twilight Zone type stories that have the phrase, “There was a knock on the door” in them some place. That line is from the 1948 “flash fiction” story, “Knock” by Fredric Brown. That entire story read: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.” I found it intriguing, and I am about to pick that Vella up and run with it again until something big hits me again.

Can you talk about your experience working with a publisher or literary agent?

Angela Hoy published my first paperback at her company, Book Locker dot com. I was new to the game, and I wanted to see how a pro did it. Angela is the definition of pro, and while I do my publishing right now, Angela is still friends with me on FB.

Since then, my association with a publishing group has been the Fresh Ink Group at Freshinkgroup dot com. Stephen Geez and Beem Weeks, the two men who run the place are both extremely professional, and I consider them both friends. They have been beyond helpful to me in my efforts, and I can not thank them enough.

How do you stay motivated and disciplined while writing?

LOL. Writing is like breathing to me. Consider it like a cocaine habit gone good. If I am not feeling good, I write. If I am upset or angry about something, I write. If I am happy, I write.

You get the idea.

Can you discuss any themes or messages you hope readers take away from your book?

I rarely write for a message, but I have written a story on child abuse that was not based on my physical abuse, but on the abuse I had seen as a medic and working in the ER. Child and spousal abuse is rampant, and growing every day.

How do you market your book and connect with readers?

I do my best to be a modern day PT Barnum, “This way to the egress!” on Twitter and FB. I develop a series of tweets that promote the same story, but spelled out differently. On my computer, I have at least thirty different tweets promoting my better-selling stories. Twitter is the best so far because I have found that if you aren’t paying FB to promote your material, they throw shade on it.

The Fresh Ink Group made a nice video trailer for “I Hate My Mother,” and it has been helpful in drawing attention to the story. I include my email in every story, and it is remarkable how many emails I get about various stories.

Can you share any advice for aspiring authors on how to get published?

Keep at it. Don’t stop. Bounce your material off people who have the courage to tell you, “This sucks! Fix it!” If all your beta readers tell you is “This is great!” find new beta readers.

The odds of getting a professional contract are two: Little and none. I think most people would be more likely to win a few million dollars in the lottery than getting a professional contract. It’s nice to dream about, but the reality of the situation is to find a reliable company to help you edit your material and then get it to the market.

The two companies I listed above, FreshInkGroup dot com and Book Locker dot com, are the two companies I would recommend to my friends. Neither company knows I am saying this, but there are dozens and dozens of companies that will promise you the moon, but will deliver nothing but the stuff I used to scoop out of the gutters in the dairy barn. I know the people behind both companies well enough to tell people I trust them.

Can you discuss any other genres you have written in and if you have plans to write in other genres in the future?

Oh, my! I love to write murder stories! As a medic, I was at more murder scenes than I can remember! I also have written two romance stories that have done very well, with the last one, “Finding Myself Again,” doing exceptionally well. When asked about the disparity between the two genres, I tell people, romance can lead to murder, so it’s only natural!

I have written stories about handling grief based on personal experiences. I did a story about growing up with my father (Things My Father Taught Me – Lessons In Life) as a role model. I’ve written a children’s story based on my grandson, (Johnny Robot – Space Alien), and several other genres.

My plans include a series of romance stories to be posted on the Vella platform, tentatively titled, “Midlife Romances – The Series.” I have the template Vella uses set up, but I’ve had a few things going on in my personal life that have slowed the actually writing of those stories. I expect by early April, I will have multiple episodes posted, with others to follow steadily.

Can you discuss any literary influences or inspirations that have shaped your writing?

I wrote this several years ago for this same question:

Someone recently asked who had ‘influenced’ my writing style. From youth on up, I’d say it was Truman Capote, Dorothy Parker, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, and Stephen King. Capote and King taught me story arcs, Hemingway and Wolfe taught me color, while Parker taught me humor.

Can you share any experiences you have had with book clubs or other reader groups?

I had an unpleasant experience with one group that I have since washed from my memory. Their goals were much different from mine. Since then, I found the FreshInkGroup, and I am happy and grateful with and for everything they have done for me and all of my author friends. Check them out at the dot com site of the same name.

How do you handle criticism and negative reviews?

I always tell people, “You can’t hurt my feelings because I have already looked in the mirror this morning.”

I have gotten a few bad ratings that bothered me until I realized what I had done. When I attempted to make a few minor changes to about a dozen stories, I uploaded the wrong version of the story. Those first/second drafts got some sharply worded comments, but they taught me something. I deserved them because I made a dreadful mistake.

If you write multiple stories as I have done, put each one in a separate folder. Once you are done with the story, delete every other copy of the story after you are done. Keep only the final copy and upload the document, cover, and anything else related to that story to a place like Dropbox dot com to make sure a computer crash doesn’t make it go bye-bye.

Can you discuss your experience with book promotion and advertising?

I have done several book signings that were good and one that was bad. It happens. Keep doing them. I have a small one in my local library this weekend.

Avoid the places that promise you to “reach thirteen gazillion readers” in a week or less! There are one or two good ones, but there are thousands of bad ones. Find a group of like-minded authors and work with them to promote each other. My promotion of my friend’s cop/murder story does not hurt my sales of my romance story.  

Stick with a group that stands behind you and supports you. It can be a rough and tumble situation. Find solace with a group that supports you. You support your friends, and your friends will support YOU!

Can you talk about any challenges you faced during the publishing process?

If you are a self-publishing author, and there are thousands of you out there, the big problem I have found is making an eye-catching cover. My partner that used to make my covers died of Covid in September 2020. If you are in a group, as I mentioned above, there will always be someone who can make a nice cover without taking your first two years of earnings.


How do you balance your writing with other aspects of your life?

I’m retired. Writing keeps my mind perking and happy. I have a wonderful wife who understands the two to three hours a day I spend at my desk writing makes me much easier to deal with later in the day!

I WANT to write daily, but I understand I owe her a fair portion of my time. No one lives forever, and you need to remember the time you spend talking and laughing with your loved ones is always more profitable than any time you spend writing. My wife improves my life and worth living. Every single day, I am thankful for her being with me.


A Lonely Man Finds Love Again

After forty-seven years of a great relationship, courtship, and marriage, the author found himself alone. His wife had struggled with a rough fight with dementia. Suddenly, she took a sudden and unexpected turn for the worse, leaving him alone for the first time in his adult life. He was sixty-four at the time but felt more like he was forty physically and ninety-five emotionally.

For over a year, he had tried to go forward with his life, but when he was alone at night, his heart’s emptiness reminded him that he needed someone to fill the ache inside him.

Loneliness is a killer, and he was dying from grief. He was dying inside because he had never been alone in his life. He told himself that he would be alright, but he wasn’t and was fading fast.

Then he found Heather. They were two souls drifting in a sea of loneliness and grief that found one another amid a building storm. Is she the one that can pull him out of an escalating depression?

We’ll see.

Interview with J. M. Robison, Author of Paragon Forgotten!


I am J.M. Robison. I write fantasy books where heroes don’t follow the rules.

I joined the U.S. Army at 17. To date, I have visited Italy, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Afghanistan, Qatar, U.A.E., and Kuwait. I read, crochet, and strive to be chemical-free in my food and body products. I love playing in the dirt: mountain biking, hiking, and camping. I recently started barefoot running. Amazon Author Central

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Can you tell us a little about your background?

I’m a published author with 4 fantasy titles under the name J.M. Robison currently held by Tirgearr Publishing: The War Queen, and three books under the series title The Last Wizard. Paragon Forgotten, my latest book, has been nominated for Best Novel for 2022. I’m an active duty U.S. Army soldier and have used my traveling across the entire world visiting a myriad of cultures, economics, religions, and society to add variety to my prose.

Can you talk about your latest book and the inspiration behind it?

Paragon Forgotten is the first book in a planned epic coming-of-age fantasy series. Where I got the inspiration to write this book is irrelevant because the event that triggered the book’s birth has no semblance to the book’s content. I also wrote the 4 book series (all written and complete) out of order ( 2,3,1,4), and because I’ve been writing and re-writing this series for 18 years, my original ideas have morphed to keep up with my own evolving life. However, even though I don’t have a notable, inspiring event to report, Paragon Forgotten was influenced largely by the Dragonlance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, my intended audience who enjoys the same. (I DO, actually, have a specific moment that directly triggered Paragon Forgotten, but it’s embarrassing and, again, not relevant to what the book is actually about.) I’m also a pantster, so I make the book up as I go and hope for the best.

How do you approach the writing process? Do you have a specific routine or method?

I do. I write every single novel by hand first with a notebook and pen. Every single novel. I then type the second draft up into Scrivener and make a further mess of things until it eventually gets straightened out after I have a text-to-voice program read it back to me, and then I throw it at beta readers who bring it back – thankfully – still in recognizable pieces.

How do you develop your characters and bring them to life on the page?

Character creation has been my hardest writing task. For that, I sought the help of Scribe Forge’s Essential Character Creation Blueprint and Workbook to break my characters into understandable pieces and rebuild them into fleshed-out reality. I can’t recommend Scribe Forge enough.

How do you handle writer’s block and overcome creative obstacles?

I’ve never had writer’s block to where 5 minutes of serious thought never fixed. If you can’t think how to continue a scene, think harder. When things are really tough, I have picture dice I throw and let the images inspire a thought to chase and see if it can bridge my temporary block.

Can you share any upcoming projects or books you are working on?

Paragon Forgotten is my up-front project. Still unpublished, I’ve serialized it on my website where I release a chapter every Friday. After that? Book two will be ready.

Can you talk about your experience working with a publisher or literary agent?

I’m pining for a literary agent right now, but I have 4 titles held by Tirgearr Publishing. Tirgearr took care of my book covers and editing, but marketing is largely on me. For editing, I was assigned an editor and we bounced my novel back and forth until we were both happy with the edits.

How do you stay motivated and disciplined while writing?

I won’t write unless I’m having fun, and I won’t write if I’m bound by rules and deadlines (because that makes it unfun). This is why I won’t do NANOWRIMO. My motivation is always there, so long as I don’t force myself to write a “daily word count”. I’ll sit and write while I want and give myself a break for a few days when I’m not feeling the verbs. The moment I start dreading writing, I know my writing days are over.

Can you discuss any themes or messages you hope readers take away from your book?

Oh, my goodness. Thank you for asking.

Paragon Forgotten has a heartbeat. Perhaps all fantasy authors claim so, but I would wait to see the proof because when I say “heartbeat” I don’t mean snazzy characters, larger-than-life plot twists, or the heavily researched world-building fantasy authors sell their souls for.

“Heartbeat” is the theme.

Fantasy is my favorite genre to read, and I’ve read enough to know that fantasy authors want your focus directed on this magic system, that unique creature, or the move-by-move sword-fighting scene they’ve acted out during LARP. What appears to be largely missing in the fantasy genre is the “reason” for writing down even the first word. The reason, the pulse sliding undercurrent to the characters, plot, and world-building. Without this reason, this pulse, this heartbeat, all fantasy is a copy-paste from each other because magic systems are not unique, fantastical creatures come out of the same mold, and I skim move-by-move sword fighting scenes because I know the hero will win and I will DNF a book for predictability.

Paragon Forgotten isn’t about Cohthel discovering if his father is alive, or his subsequent choices and the impact his choice will make on the rest of the series (the series is 5 books, not 4. I split the 1st book in half.) Paragon Forgotten is about the villain who isn’t even mentioned in the blurb. It’s the villain’s story because through his internal conflict — and the reason I use varying races (dragons, elves, dwarves, ecthore, seadwellers, falkons, gryphons, pegasi) — he begins to understand that the race of humans are superior to the other eight races not because of their divine birthright, but because the humans have been mandated by their divine birthright to serve the other races, much like a servant would serve a king, or exactly like Jesus — a king — served his fellow mankind.

If you could say one thing to the entire world, what would it be?

I have that opportunity to say one thing to our world, and I spend 4 more books after Paragon Forgotten to say it: love and serve your fellow mankind.

Thank you, readers, for encouraging me to say my one thing to the world.

How do you market your book and connect with readers?

I’ve been more successful with my latest attempts to serialize Paragon Forgotten, because this forces me to 1) seek out readers to read Paragon Forgotten (which I find mostly on bookfunnel) and 2) to push out a dedicated newsletter every week with fresh content, which has more than just the weekly-released chapter. Every week I get new readers trickling in, so it’s an experiment to see, when I post the final chapter, if my methods worked.

Can you discuss any other genres you have written in and if you have plans to write in other genres in the future?

Funny, I don’t read sci-fi, but I wrote a little sci-fi short story which is being published in an anthology in April 2023 with Metal Lunchbox Publishing.

Can you discuss any literary influences or inspirations that have shaped your writing?

My writing was influenced 100% by the Dragonlance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

How do you handle criticism and negative reviews?

This is actually ridiculously easy to handle. So easy I even wrote a blog post on it. You handle criticism and negative reviews by, and I cannot stress this enough, by NOT releasing your book to ANYONE until you’ve written at least 3 drafts of it. Which is why I write every novel by hand first, because it forces me to re-write it word-for-word when I type it. Every editor will tell you this is the best way to edit your novel: re-writing it word-for-word. Then, once typed, I have a program read it back outloud to me (because you understand things differently when you read something versus hearing something.) Then beta readers who work out all those annoying plot holes you’ve so far ignored, and THEN you seek publication.

I know my methods work, because I’ve never received criticism (beta readers provide feedback, which is not the same) and I don’t have negative reviews at this time. I am also a reader, and I do give out negative reviews on books, even knowing my negative reviews could have been avoided if the author had taken more time and more care to craft an excellent story, like I have done to all of mine.

Can you talk about any challenges you faced during the publishing process?

I was rejected 47 times over the course of 2 years before Tirgearr offered their contract. The challenge was never knowing if I was being rejected because it wasn’t to the publisher’s taste or if my story was terrible. But because beta-reader feedback told me I had an excellent story, and gave me mini-awards for it, I maintained that I DID have a good story and I just hadn’t found the right publisher yet. This is why I say it is VITAL to have a writing/editing process that forces you to take the time and take the care to make an excellent story, because so long as you’ve proven to yourself you have an excellent story, you won’t get negative reviews and you will KNOW the publisher/agent rejected you because it wasn’t their taste, and not because you wrote a terrible story. It all comes full circle.

How do you balance your writing with other aspects of your life?

I’m an active duty U.S. Army soldier, so I already have to work a full-time job (combat deployments, night operations, sometimes weekends,) and yet I still find time in the evenings and on weekends to write. I make it a priority in my life, and I focus on that priority. What you focus on, you have more time for.


16-year-old Cohthel, a human, should have visited Father’s grave sooner, because now it’s missing.

Mother makes excuses for the absent grave, which Cohthel accepts, but his best friend, Thaen, won’t. Thaen convinces Cohthel his father must still be alive, and Cohthel runs away from school, family, and friends to find the truth. He needs the truth because Mother won’t remarry and without a father’s guidance Cohthel fears he’ll never choose an apprenticeship, will live with Mother the rest of his life, won’t fully grasp manhood, and all his friends will succeed in life and leave him behind.

While away, Cohthel hears corrupting rumors that humans are breaking alliances to force the other eight races to worship humans as gods. Cohthel returns home to not only having found the truth about his once-thought-dead father, but that he now must choose: join the humans’ war for godhood and erase his culture, identity, and humanity or oppose the war and be forced to kill the only thing he’s ever wanted: a father.