Under the Big Top with Jessica Walsh

July 29, 2015

Under the Big Top

Today is the day of my first Dreamspinner Press release – so please be kind and I hope you enjoy it.  I’m Jessica Walsh, from Minnesota and I’ve been writing published works for the last two years, however this is my first solo work.  Ironbound Kisses and my other work are all Urban Supernatural – you know, our world with a bit of fantasy and the unusual mixed in.  This is a genre I’ve always loved, because I always preferred to think that this world isn’t quite as normal as we all think it is.

As for the circus, where this novella takes place, this is the first time I’ve written a story in such a setting, and yet it seemed to fit perfectly because the circus is supposed to be a place of magic anyway.  So I had a lot of fun pulling back that curtain to show the back area – something we don’t generally see.  In Minnesota we only really have one circus and it’s not in the best area and shows like Cirque De Sol weren’t exactly what I was looking for.  So instead, I found my research in the oddest of places – Netflix, PBS and a few scattered childhood memories.

The whole magic of the circus is being able to get your popcorn and candy and spend a couple hours watching normal people do almost magical things before your very eyes.  There’s something about seeing real people do it in front of you that trumps the feeling of watching it on screen.  Sure, with television and movies the effects might be flashier, but there’s times when a little ‘in person’ magic can also be just as stunning.  Be it stunts, extreme skills with sharp objects, or tamed animals that act like docile pets, you have to admit that it’s easy to lose yourself in seeing these performers show off their skills.

I had the most fun with Thomas, the main character.  Since he starts the story interviewing for a job at the circus, his curtained view of that world is immediately taken away.  He, and the reader, get to almost immediately see the reality of circus life with the hard work, traveling and living in trailers behind the large tents.  The magic and performance is quickly stripped away for hard work and very simple lifestyle.

But what Thomas soon comes to discover is that there’s still something hidden at this circus and there’s still magic and mystery hiding in the trees and one of the trailers.  So even in the background, behind the scenes where it’s all pulled away, there’s still something left to be discovered.

Part of the fun of writing in Urban Fantasy relates back to a very personal part of my childhood.  I grew up needing glasses from the time I was three because I naturally saw double.  This meant, at night, when I wasn’t wearing glasses it was really easy to see that monster hiding behind my door, in the corner of my room and my closet.  And even if you showed me it was a pile of clothes in the morning, when the lights went out I was positive it was there.

As I got older and grew out of being scared of the monsters, glancing twice at shadows and things that looked strange was a second nature to me.  I’ll still do it now when I’m sitting at home or work and I hear a strange sound, even though I’m alone.  Call it ghosts, fairies or the house settling, I notice it a lot.  And it’s now become more of a game to make up stories about what might actually be there just beyond my sight.  Maybe there is a ghost rummaging through the fabric in my sewing room at night.  Maybe there is a fairy hiding in the rafters of our basement, taunting our kitties who can’t quite jump high enough.  Or maybe my house is just far too old for any of that and the wood creaks and the pipes clang.  Whatever the story, it’s a fun ride for the imagination, and more than a few of those thoughts have formed into outlines waiting to be written.


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Aside from Ironbound Kisses I’m currently working on an ongoing series with another Dreamspinner Author: Briana Lawrence .  She and I have been together for almost 14 years and actually met through our love of writing.  We spent years writing fanfiction together before we moved on to our own original works.  Seeking the Storyteller is the beginning of our long series set in Minnesota and also has a twist of supernatural in it, though this time it’s not as subtle.  We introduce a being called the Storyteller, who lives in a room of endless books full of the stories of people’s lives.  He has the power to read all those stories and change them, however he feels fit.

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You can find both of us, most days, either at or preparing for our next Anime Convention.  We wear costumes, sell our books and crafts in Artist Alley and can generally be found having fun with other convention goers all over the US.  So I suppose, in a way, I’m still working the fun and magical into my life – now I’m just doing it with a notebook and a couple Disney Princess dresses I’ve made.


So, what kind of magic is hiding at the edge of your world?  Are there dragons hidden in the marsh along your jogging path?  Fairies hidden in the cupboards above the work coffee machine?  Or maybe your dog chases little imps around the backyard trees.  Whatever it is, maybe you should take a second glance, because otherwise you might just miss it.


Author facebook: https://www.facebook.com/storytellerhuntersseries

Blog: http://snowtigra.blogspot.com/

Website: http://www.sewntogetherreflections.com/books


Get Ironbound Kisses today!


Kristi Lee’s Irish Surprise

April 29, 2015


Hey there! My name is Kristi Lee. It’s not a pseudonym, that’s really my name. I’m thrilled to announce the release of my first completed original fiction work, Surprised at Nothing, published today by Dreamspinner Press. I started writing it a year and a half ago intending for it to be a Harry Potter/Secret of Kells crossover story of all things, but then I realized that essentially all of the characters were original characters, so I challenged myself to do my own world-building and here we are. :) I knew from the beginning I wanted the story to be set primarily in Ireland, a country I haven’t yet visited but have been somewhat obsessed by since I was a child. I also have an obsession with red-haired men, so the protagonist in Surprised at Nothing has a head of beautiful red hair.

This is a ‘how they get together’ story, introducing Reggie (the protagonist) and ’Kelp’, whose real name is Ian, and the small cast of characters around them. Reggie is a magus archeologist, and Kelp is ostensibly a historian and lecturer, though he drifts rather like seaweed on the tide in this story. There’s also a dragon egg, or perhaps it’s just a fossilized rock- you’ll have to read to find out. ;) I had a very interesting moment while writing it— I was driving to a workout and had a sudden vision of a climactic, dramatic incident that needed to happen. The image and scene was so vivid in my mind that I nearly turned left on a red arrow into oncoming traffic! Thankfully I didn’t suffer a car crash while writing this story. :)

I wrote slash (m/m) fanfiction for over a decade, and am most comfortable writing male/male stories, exploring male relationships in their myriad forms. I’m also used to immediate feedback, so while writing this, I sent sections to a couple of fandom friends to hear what they thought since this was my first time relying on my own world-building. Like me, and Reggie, they all fell for Kelp pretty hard. Since Surprised at Nothing is from Reggie’s point of view, we get to learn a lot about him, including a particularly challenging handicap Kelp has: he’s an Unfortunate. That means that while he’s born of magus parents and lives primarily in the magus world, he can’t perform any spellcastings or other magic himself. He copes remarkably well despite that, but Reggie is witness to some comments and an emotional storm that indicate Kelp has had to deal with a lot in the past— and still does.

As I was writing this, I had sequels in mind already, and that’s what I’m working on now: sequel #1, as of yet untitled. The editing process for Surprised at Nothing really helped me hone in on Reggie and Kelp’s motivations, to flesh out their backstories in my mind, and to let my imagination run wild in what they could get up to next. I love to do research, and did a lot of searching to decide where to set the next story. The small town of Letterfrack features in Surprised at Nothing, selected both because it’s by the water, but also because I loved the name. The sequel-in-process is primarily in the Boyne Valley, featuring the Neolithic passage tombs of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth. Irish legend and the power of myth are prominent in these stories as I’m personally drawn to Celtic mythology— and it’s a perfect backdrop for these two young men to begin to fall for each other.


Symbolic tattoos make an appearance in Surprised at Nothing, and that thread continues on in the sequel I’m writing now. As a reader, do you find yourself visualizing tattoos described in the stories you love, perhaps even drawing them yourself? Where on the male body do you think they are potentially the sexiest? And so near and dear to my heart: who here thinks that red haired men are particularly compelling? ;)

Please reach out to me— I’d love to hear from you!






Blog Release Party! A Most Unusual Courtship & A Most Unusual Wedding

April 16, 2015





I’m sorry to say, but this is my last post for the lovely Dreamspinner blog! I’ve enjoyed writing about my Victorian guys with all of you and hope you’ve enjoyed the glimpse into their alternate world. So one last time, A Most Unusual Courtship is out, and free, right now! You can download it right this very moment, if you so wish! You’ll have to wait the agonizing three days to get ahold of A Most Unusual Wedding, though. If I may say so, it is definitely worth the wait! :D

What to write, what to write? I wish I could ask you guys live what you might like to see… A-ha! How about a wee interview with the boys? It’ll tide you over until the novel comes out.


The Starbucks doors opened to admit a large man with brown hair and oddly pretty, amber colored eyes. Dressed simply in dark pants and a loose-fitting brown shirt, he looked around the crowded coffee shop before turning to face someone behind him. “I don’t know, Leo. This is quite a strange tavern.”

“If you let me in, I can make sure there aren’t any Dark mages lying in wait.”

“If you must.”

Gerald stepped aside and a shorter man with long blond hair braided back walked into the Starbucks. His clothes were a… vibrantly purple silk shirt, snug black pants, and a golden vest that somehow matched the bigger man’s eyes. He muttered something in a foreign language and a gold mist slid through the open space. Bright blue eyes sparked with mischief and he said, “Perfectly safe, darling, so long as you don’t mind a horrific cuppa.”

Gerald made a face. “Really?”

“Sadly yes,” Leo confirmed.

“Over here, gentlemen! I have your tea ready and waiting.”

Both men walked over to the corner table where a short, dark haired woman waited, beaming at their approach. Leo quirked an eyebrow at her and said, cutting, “I suppose we’ve you to thank for the shenanigans going on all around the wedding?”

Taken aback, her hazel eyes widened and she gaped at him a bit.

Gerald frowned at him and said, “Leo, love, be nice. Hello. I’m Gerald. Sorry, he’s just a bit miffed.”

“No, no. It’s quite all right. I understand. That was rather a lot of goings-on. Please, have a seat. I promise you’ll love the tea.”

Leo made an unconvinced noise, but sat. “So. What do you want to know?”

“It’s not me so much me as the readers! They wanted to meet you.”

Gerald nudged Leo and smiled. “As if you’d miss out on something like this.”

She cleared her throat and said, “Yes, well. Just a few questions as we don’t have a lot of time, I promise. Firstly, are you two keeping out of trouble these days?”

“I say,” Leo exclaimed, “that’s hardly fair, coming from you! If we’re getting into trouble…”

“If, love?”

“…then it’s your fault. As if we wanted to encounter a murder on our honeymoon. I had so many delectable plans and they all involved Gerald’s lovely, big…”


She blushed a little. His words left very little to the imagination. “I see. Well, despite the murder, I hope the honeymoon went well?”

Gerald covered Leo’s hand with his. “Very. I won’t go into details, but we met some wonderful new friends and… well. That would be spoiling I think.”

“How are things with your uncle, Leo?”

Leo’s gaze darkened and the temperature instantly dropped several degrees. “Another subject, please.”

“Right. Ah. Any future plans you can discuss?”

Gerald beamed and said, “Leo’s working with an American! Or, he will be shortly. It should be very interesting. I’ve never met one before. Oh, aside from you of course.”

“No problem. Actually, we’re out of time. But I wanted to say thanks so much for the excitement you bring into my life.”

Gerald smiled widely. “Quite our pleasure, honestly. Do you mind if we stay and finish the tea?”

“Be my guest. They’re closing shortly, but feel free. It was wonderful to meet you in the flesh. Er, so to speak.” She stood and they echoed the movement immediately. Her small hand was engulfed by Gerald’s large one and even by Leo’s smaller elegant hand. “Have a lovely trip back to London.”

“Safe travels,” Gerald said.

Leo huffed in amusement. “Yes, yes. Good luck with the writing. And if you can manage to embarrass my uncle at some point in the near future, it would be greatly appreciated.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

She walked to the door and then looked back just before opening it to find them seated again, holding hands, with their heads bent close together. It was a sight that tugged at her heartstrings and she quickly left the Los Angeles Starbucks to hurry and catch the bus home.


Hope that wasn’t too silly for everyone! And I hope you all enjoy Courtship and Wedding! Love to hear back from you about both. :D

Blog Release Party! A Most Unusual Courtship & A Most Unusual Wedding

April 16, 2015




Hello Hello! Nancy back again with some more tidbits about A Most Unusual Wedding (out 4/20/15) and its prequel, the novella A Most Unusual Courtship (out – and free – now)!

Now let’s see… so far we’ve talked about where Courtship and Wedding came from as well as my little music ritual while writing. We should totally talk about the supporting cast of characters! Sometimes it’s the supporting roles, so to speak, that really make the movie or novel come to life. I’m a huge believer in character first, from the heroes to the villains and everyone in-between. What this means is I spend time writing out a bio for each of the characters important enough to get a name; sometimes this even means really minor characters like repeat waiters or butlers and the like. Why yes, I do overthink things now and again, why do you ask?

When Courtship came out a few years ago, I think some of the best compliments I got were about Daniel Smithson, Gerald’s grandfather. He’s a sprightly eighty-three year old man, which was rather unheard of back in Victorian times. The average life expectancy was around forty, if you can believe it! Talk about harsh. Fortunately in my world of magic, people tend to live a lot longer whether due to having magic themselves or the care received from doctors with magic, often both. Daniel carries around a cane more to whack people with than for support, in my opinion (and poor Leo’s opinion, too). He’s very quick to express his displeasure with the cane and woe betide any shin within range! I had sooo much fun writing all of his scenes.

Next up in the character department is Harry. Lieutenant Harold Bickley of Her Majesty’s Navy is a cut-up, quite free with his *ahem* affections, and somewhat of a ne’er-do-well in his personal life. But he’s also one of the best sailors you’d ever want to rescue you from pirates. He’s also got power and has been at sea most of his life, rising from cabin boy to lieutenant the hard way as well as coming late to his powers. Harry and Gerald have been best mates since long before Harry went off to join the Navy and have remained so through the years. Harry does his best to get Gerald to let loose whenever Harry’s on leave, much to Gerald’s repeated regret.

Unfortunately, Leo doesn’t really have a best mate outside of Gerald. He’s got family, acquaintances, and rivals. If he had to pick someone, it would probably be Gregory Framingham. The older gentleman is a mentor of Leo’s and back in the day he convinced Leo that the best way to learn the fullness of his powers would be to go walkabout. He was always there when Leo needed a champion and taught Leo a lot about how to be himself in a world of deceit and power, both political and magical.

And then there’s the Harris family. One of the greatest thorns in Leo’s side is his own uncle, Mark, who is head of the family and named Leo as his heir. In his vast wisdom (read: sarcasm), Mark’s decided that Gerald is no good for Leo and wants the marriage called off. He’s determined to find a proper spouse for his heir.

What kind of characters are your favorite to read about? Do you like ones who know who they are or still have some growing left to do? Soft-hearted or stubborn? Wild at heart or a stay at home fussbudget? And do you like your romances to be more of the “opposites attract” style or “complementary in nature”?

Blog Release Party! A Most Unusual Courtship & A Most Unusual Wedding

April 16, 2015




Hello again! Nancy here continuing my first ever blog release party for my novel A Most Unusual Wedding (out 4/20/15) and its prequel, the novella A Most Unusual Courtship (out – and free – now)!

One thing that I’ve always found to be helpful while I write is music. I simply can’t write without it! (I mean, okay yes, technically I can, it’s just not nearly as easy nor does it flow as fast) But it’s not just listening to music that completes my writing ritual. I have to wear headphones so the music is concentrated directly to the brain. I think it’s probably a subconscious focusing trick. I ‘blame’ my mother and grandmother for always having music or the television going on in the kitchen when I got home from school and had to do my homework. ;0) There was a lot of noise going on in my house growing up and I got used to it, and now it helps with the creative process.

I’ve found in talking to other authors that it’s 50/50 when it comes to listening to music while writing. Of those who do listen while writing, the genres run the gamut. One of my friends only listens to classical; she feels that having words flying at her while trying to write is too much. Me? I’m often inspired by music and I definitely have “soundtracks” or albums/artists I listen to for different works-in-progress.

For Wedding, I listened to a variety of musicians, but for the majority of writing, I listened to Adele, Arctic Monkeys, and Lifehouse. On one hand, the lyrical quality of Lifehouse and Adele that helped me go back to a quieter time of life. While Victorian London was filled with the everyday noise of life, they obviously didn’t have the same constant background of cars, planes, trucks, radio, television, headphones, elevator music, etc., etc. And on the other hand, with all the crazy shenanigans going on in the novel itself, Arctic Monekys was both BritRock and invigorating, which definitely got me in the mood for the guys.

Novel tidbit: I named Leo’s mother after Adele because I was listening to her when I had to name Leo’s mom. Funny how that works, isn’t it? ;o)

The particular tracks that I just set on repeat and wrote Wedding to:


He Won’t Go

First Love

Hometown Glory

Rolling in the Deep


You and Me

Nerve Damage


Arctic Monkeys


Brick by Brick

I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor

Riot Van

I also listen to music when I’m reading so maybe my brain is just wired that way, I don’t know. But how about all of you? If you’re a writer of any sort, do you listen to music while writing? And if you’re a reader, do you need the strains of a familiar ballad going on in the background while you read or must there be a library-esque silence? Taking it a step further, do you find the words fly by in the complete solitude of your fave recliner at home or is a comfy coffee/tea shop more your scene?

Blog Release Party! A Most Unusual Courtship & A Most Unusual Wedding

April 16, 2015




Well hello everyone! Good morning/afternoon/evening in whatever part of the world you’re reading this in! I’m Nancy M. Griffis and I’ll be your hostess with the mostest for the next few hours! This is my very first blog release party and also, probably not coincidentally, my first novel (and novella) with Dreamspinner, though definitely not my last!

My latest novel, A Most Unusual Wedding will be released this coming Monday, 4/20/15, and its novella prequel, A Most Unusual Courtship, came out on 4/13/15. Courtship, by the way, is going to remain free so you can scoop it up asap into your hot little hands… or kindle, or nook, as the case may be… and see how it all began before the big event! As a little bonus, all books at Dreamspinner are on sale, so you’ll be able to take twenty-five percent off!

I originally came up with Courtship in response to a charity anthology call for submissions a few years ago with the theme as Leather. I’ll admit that I figured it would end up a lot spicier than it did with that theme, but Gerald (the leathersmith) is a very proper Victorian man. Raised by his grandfather after the deaths of his parents, Gerald was an only child who lived mostly to create beauty through leather. As a powerful and wealthy mage, Leo is far more forward and goes after what, and who, he wants with considerably more brashness. Of course, he’s a noble, a middle child, and has traveled the world as well, so he’s a fair bit more cosmopolitan than Gerald, who’s never even left London. This is a definite case of opposites attract.

For those of you wondering how Wedding came about, I was working on other novels after Courtship and taken quite by surprise when Leo started yammering in my ear about getting married. He was very definite on the matter. I thought it couldn’t be too hard to do a full-on novel but then the research began! Let me just say that you don’t know what you don’t know about a time period until you actually start writing about it. I mostly write contemporary urban fantasy or futuristic scifi, so this was my first historical novel, which was somewhat intimidating. There are so many excellent historical novels out there and I really wanted to do it justice. Even though Wedding is an urban fantasy novel as well as historical, I wanted to get as realistic a feel for it as I could possible portray. I didn’t want to take any shortcuts because it was also a fantasy novel. I hope all the research (from underwear, to food, to types of carriages) comes through in the writing and builds a proper world for the reader.

So. I’ll read pretty much any genre of novel. It’s non-fiction I need to set my mind to. ;o) How many of you out there love mixed-genre books? I can count three that Wedding and Courtship belong to: historical, urban fantasy, and gay romance. Do you prefer your history without any make-believe? Or perhaps you like your fantasy in a world of the author’s creation? Or are you someone who lives by ‘the more genres the better!’ philosophy? Let me know! :D

And if you’ve already read Courtship, I’d love your feedback!

Harmony Ink New Release: October 30, 2014

October 30, 2014

Guardians (The Woodmen Chronicles: Book Two) by A.M. Burns

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

Bigfoot Thom Woodman feels like he’s being forced to choose between the human and Oh Mah worlds, and life with or without his mate, Ben. Guardians (The Woodmen Chronicles: Book Two) by A.M. Burns, a Harmony Ink Press Young Adult title available from Dreamspinner Press.











The Woodmen Chronicles: Book Two

Thom Woodman is a bigfoot, although he prefers to be called an Oh Mah. When it comes time for the Oh Mah biannual gathering, he’s excited to go with Ben Steele, the human he bonded with.

To Thom’s surprise, he is offered a place among the Guardians, the leaders of the Oh Mah. But since he grew up half in the human world, he can’t make a decision before he finds out more about these Guardians.

When an Oh Mah is killed by a human, the growing antihuman sentiment runs rampant through the gathering. Thom’s family swears to help protect Ben, but when some of the Guardians join the anti-human faction, they aren’t sure they can live up to their promise. Even when Ben is kidnapped, Thom doesn’t know what to say when the Guardians demand his answer. Thom feels like he’s not only being forced to choose between the Oh Mah and the human world, but also between a life with or without Ben.

Length: Novel (214p.) | Genre: Fantasy: Urban Fantasy, Fantasy: High Fantasy, Paranormal: Other, Young Adult, Gay | Release Date: October 30, 2014

Buy as an eBook (ISBN: 978-1-63216-389-9) | Buy as a Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-63216-389-9)

Harmony Ink New Release: September 11, 2014

September 11, 2014

Key of Behliseth by Lou Hoffmann

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

When homeless gay teen Lucky steps through a wizard’s door, he must remember his true name and master his extraordinary abilities. Key of Behliseth by Lou Hoffmann, a Harmony Ink Press Young Adult title available from Dreamspinner Press.











2nd Edition

On his way to meet a fate he’d rather avoid, homeless gay teen Lucky steps through a wizard’s door and is caught up in a whirlwind quest and an ancient war. He tries to convince himself that his involvement with sword fights, magic, and interworld travel is a fluke, and that ice-breathing dragons and fire-breathing eagles don’t really exist. But with each passing hour, he remembers more about who he is and where he’s from, and with help, he begins to claim his power.

Lucky might someday rule a nation, but before he can do that, he must remember his true name, accept his destiny, and master his extraordinary abilities. Only then can he help to banish the evil that has invaded earth and find his way home—through a gateway to another world.

Length: Novel (296p.) | Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult, Gay | Release Date: September 11, 2014, 2014

Buy as an eBook (ISBN: 978-1-63216-248-9) | Buy as a Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-63216-246-5)

Harmony Ink New Release – July 31, 2014

July 31, 2014

Harmonious Hearts – Stories from the 2104 Young Author Challenge

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

Celebrate with Harmony Ink Press as we recognize the talented winners of our first annual Young Author Challenge. Harmonious Hearts – Stories from the 2014 Young Author Challenge, a Harmony Ink Press Young Adult title available from Dreamspinner Press.











Celebrate with Harmony Ink Press as we recognize the talented winners of our first annual Young Author Challenge. This anthology showcases the LGBTQ genre’s best up-and-coming-authors between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one.

The transition from childhood to adulthood is never easy, and growing up presents unique challenges for LGBTQ youth. Confusion, bigotry, and struggle transcend time and place, but fortunately, so does love. Travel with these exceptional young authors from country cottages to big cities, into the past and the future, from fantastic lands of magic to the recognizable landscapes of our world. Regardless of the setting, the characters in these stories, along with families, friends, lovers, and allies, fight to claim their places in life. Their identities and situations are different, but the young people in this collection share the strength and courage to succeed, sometimes against great odds, and they invite you to join them on their journeys.

Cigar, Parasol, Star by Laura Beaird
Counting Stars by L.A. Buchanan
The King of Dorkdom by Avery Burrow
Happy Endings Take Work by Morgan Cair
Tess by Becca Ehlers
Our First Anniversary by Trisha Harrington
The Dragon Princess by Eleanor Hawtin
An IRL Love Life by Rebecca Long
On Their Own Terms by D. William Pfifer
Glitterhead by Benjamin Shepherd Quiñones
City Lights Will Carry You Home by Amanda Reed
The Gift of Flame by Scotia Roth
Waiting by Annie Schoonover
Quiet Love by Gil Segev
Paranormal Honor Society by Leigh Taylor

Length: Anthology Novel (294p.) | Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense, Fantasy: High Fantasy, Fantasy: Urban Fantasy, Fantasy: Fairy Tales, Science Fiction, Paranormal: Other, Young Adult, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Genderfluid | Release Date: July 31, 2014

Buy as an eBook (ISBN: 978-1-63216-188-8) | Buy as a Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-63216-186-4)

Rising Frenzy–who is this crazy author?

September 23, 2013

Welcome back!  I’m a teacher of my word, so this section is the all about me, Brandon Witt, portion of our day together.  We both know that you’ve been waiting with baited breath at your screen to learn who I am, what makes me tick, and just how many years of therapy a person has to go through to end up like this!  It’s okay, you can breathe now.  (See what my students have to deal with?  Talk about needing therapy!  Poor kids!)

I am a thirty-five year old red headed man who lives in Denver. (The older I’ve gotten, the hair has tamed itself to a light auburn, but I’m holding onto the claim of red hair, damn it.  At least until I can figure out how to get a tan.)  Currently, and for the past seven years, I have taught Special Education at an elementary school.  I work with students with significant emotional disabilities—lots of anger, tears, violence, restraints, drama.  And that’s just me before my coffee on Monday mornings.  Before that, I worked for six years with the same type of kids, but in a residential treatment facility for high school age children—think Juvenile hall where kids live, with therapy and teachers.  At that point, I was a counselor.

I am a daddy two Corgis, Dunkyn and Dolan.  I may be one of those helicopter moms where my dogs are concerned.  I am son (duh), brother, uncle (to a four year old boy who the universe rotates around—at least mine), and a boyfriend (you’ll learn more about Stephen in blog three).

For the first eighteen years of my life I grew up in El Dorado Springs, Missouri.  A town of three thousand in the Ozarks.  My family was a very conservative Christian family.  Think—no drinking, dancing, jewelry, movie theaters, etc, etc, etc.  Shockingly, that also meant no gayness.  Surprising, right?  Later, I would go on to get my bachelor degree to be a youth pastor in a church.  A week after graduation, upon two church job offers, I came out, and left that profession so that I wouldn’t be living a lie.  Promptly, I jumped into ‘learn to be straight’ therapy (1-3 times a week for five years—boy, what I could do with that money now).  Thankfully, that didn’t work, as I’m probably the gayest man I’ve ever met.  Yep, you’re chatting with a gold-star gay, baby.  Despite all of the drama you can imagine in this scenario (and the issues, good Lord, don’t forget the issues), I am very close to my family.  We are together AT LEAST once a week.  Being the good gay I am, I talk to my mom every single day.  I say this because my first published novel, The Shattered Door, takes place in my hometown, and has many autobiographical features in it.  The main character’s mother is a horribly broken woman.  People often ask if my real mother was her basis of inspiration.  Definitely not.  I have a wonderful mother, who, like most mothers I’ve met, is the real strength, power, and love of our family.  This is a photo of my mother and I at a Centennial Celebration in our home town.

These aspects—my work with hurting children, and my own struggles growing up—greatly affect my writing, obviously.  Most of what I write has a dark tinge.  Some of it is much more than tinged.  Both in my contemporary and fantasy writing, I have characters that face things that we all face in life.  I know that for some readers, it can be too much.  However, I have seen the darkness destroy some people and make others amazing.  Children who have overcome sexual and physical abuse, neglect, learned to function with disabilities, on, and on, and on.  The questions of God, brokenness, Hell, salvation. . . life. . . tend to make their way onto every page.  I tend to not sugar coat much.  Just as in life, some characters allow themselves to be broken, others learn to fly.

Writing, to me, is as vital as breathing.  Through stories that I wrote in high school, to books upon books of journaling, and now novels that tell the lives of others, I’ve learned to live.  Ms. Hungerford, my Lit teacher in my sophomore year of high school first breathed the gift of writing words into my life.  She told me I was good, that she liked reading what I wrote.  Looking at those stories now, I often think that she had to be lying—no one would want to read those.  However, she started it.  She wouldn’t approve of the things I write, but I think she would be honored by the strength and honesty that she has inspired.

So, me.  All about me.  I guess it comes down to this.  I love living.  I love how life, darkness, and love itself affects people so differently and causes such vast array of reactions.  I have written for years, fought to see my books in print for years (and years and years).  Now, here we are.  By Christmas, four novels will be out.  It’s a testament to hard to work, an audacious belief that a person can do anything if they sacrifice, and though romance may not be the pinnacle of the words I write, Love is.  No bit of my life or my writing would be here without love.  Love of family—especially my mother.  Love of a teacher who told me I was good at something.  Love of myself enough to believe that God doesn’t see me as the abomination I was told.  Love of a publisher, Elizabeth of Dreamspinner named her company well.  Love of stories, believing they matter, entertain, tell a truth, and change lives.

In books (and movies and music, as well), I don’t like being preached at, nor do I enjoy or want a ‘lesson’ or moral shoved down my throat.  I want to entertained, enveloped into another’s life or a different world.  I love it when it’s beautiful, but it’s okay when it’s hard or dark.  What has to be there for me to love a book is passion.  An overused word, perhaps, but true nonetheless.  We should live passionately, in everything.  Life is too wonderful, fleeting, and fragile to do anything else, and I expect that in books.  And while everyone has a different view of that, of what passion should look it, I can promise that every word I’ve written (both in the contemporary novel, The Shattered Door, and the Men of Myth series) comes from that outlook.  I love my characters.  They have surprised me so many times, caused me to laugh and cry.  My hope is that people learn to love them like I do, and that they make the reader’s life a little more full in some way.  It is a scary thing sending your children out into world.

Question and Giveaway time:

1. What drives you?  What is your passion?  Where do you find your love of life?  How do you find your wings in the times you’ve not been able to feel that love?

2. For the giveaway of Rising Frenzy–What are your thoughts of darkness in novels, in ugly realities of life being written on a page?  It’s okay—you can be honest.  You don’t have to agree with me.  I work with kids, remember?  Kids are brutally blunt.  Makes life fun!