The spooky season is behind us, and it’s November, which means NaNoWriMo has officially begun. Last year I really struggled, but I finished, and so when I was tossing up whether I should do it this year it not, I decided to just give in to my own stubbornness and see where it takes me.
Good luck to all those taking part, and remember every word you write can be edited to just WRITE!
I’m on the home stretch of Secrets of the Soul and I have a preorder link which I will share later, so be sure to read through to the end 🙂
But now it’s time to spill the tea with EJ Frost!
Looking for delicious, alpha heroes who would burn down the world for the women they love? You’ve come to the right place. I write couples who would do anything for each other and characters you want for your best friends.
EJ’s Quirky Questions
Holly: If you could live anywhere real or imaginary where would it be and why?
EJ: Hogwarts. I’m still waiting for my letter. The owl’s on the way, right? 😉
I’m a bit of a crazy academic, and I’d love to live in an ancient, crumbling, magical school, haunting the libraries and sneaking off with a big, leather-bound tome to read by the fire with a cup of tea, a talking cat or two, and wearing cozy socks.
Holly: What are some day jobs that you have had/have? Do they impact your writing, share an example.
EJ: I’ve been a lawyer for 20+ years. It’s been good training for persuasive writing, crafting a story, and careful proofreading. I hear some crazy things in my day job. Some of them sneak their way into my stories.
The craziest is probably a deed I came across while buying a house locally for one of my clients. The deed said, “Here lie X, Y, and Z, buried under slate at a depth of three feet, 1912, 1918, and 1920. Three more loyal companions could not be found.” The deed was for the garden of my client’s prospective house. Having three bodies buried in the garden didn’t sound like such a good idea. I did a bit more digging through the deeds and found that X, Y, and Z were cats. The dates kept nagging at me, so I called my dad, who was biochemist. I told him about the buried cats and the dates. He went very quiet on the other end of the phone, then said, “I’ll call you back.” When he called back an hour later, he said, “Whatever you and your client do, you must NOT exhume those cats.” “Why not?” I asked. He explained they were buried during the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 (often called the “Spanish flu”). Cats don’t get Spanish flu, but they can carry the virus. Exhuming the cats could unleash Spanish flu. I thanked him and called my client. I told her not to buy the house, but she really liked it and promised not to ever dig up the garden. She went ahead and bought it. I’m still waiting for the next Spanish flu outbreak to start in a sleepy village north of Manchester …
Holly: We know what you like to write, but what do you like to read in your free time, and why?
EJ: I read widely but usually related to what I’m writing in some way. I read a lot of bully romance. I love Angel Lawson and Samantha Rue’s Forsyth series, everything J. Bree writes, E. M. Moore’s sports bully books, and Penelope Douglas’s “Devil’s Night” series. I also read urban fantasy and mysteries. Ben Aaronovich’s “Peter Grant” series is a particular favorite right now. I like to research legends and myths and have been reading “Boggarts, Trolls and Tylwyth Teg” by Peter Stevenson, which is a collection of folk tales from the countryside close to where I live. Folk tales underpin a lot of my world-building and I almost always find fresh inspiration reading folk tales. I read non-fiction, often historical. I just finished “A Secret Sisterhood” which is about the hidden friendships between Austin, Bronte, Eliot, and Woolf, and am reading “Woodsmoke and Sage” which is a book about how the Tudors experienced the world through their five senses. Not much makes me happier than having four or five books on the go.
Holly: What qualities do you and your characters share? How much are you like them, or how different are they from you?
EJ: Stubbornness. 😀
My heroines, in particular. They may not be the prettiest or the smartest or the most talented of my characters, but they never give up. They dig their heels in and work their way around problems. They hold on after hope is gone. They are loyal to a fault. Those things are very true of me as well.
The biggest difference between us is that they wield magic and I don’t. I’m still quite bitter about that. 😉
Holly: What was the hardest part of writing this book?
EJ: Balancing the developing relationships between the heroine and her three boys and the murder mystery. I tried to advance both in every chapter and sometimes it felt like I was trying to pack in too much. My alpha readers were lifesavers. They were great about reading through chapters in chunks as I was writing and telling me when there was just too much going on.
Holly: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
EJ: I do read reviews. I learn a lot from them. Not as much as a peer critique, which I strongly recommend for every author. Particularly when you’re starting out as an author, having other writers critique your work is invaluable. I spent a decade putting my work through online and in-person writing workshops before I published. That experience helped me find my voice as a writer and put criticism in perspective. Except where the critique attacks the author as a person, every critique is valuable in some way. I want to grow as an author with every story I tell, and one way I do that is by listening to critiques from my peers and readers.
For “Teddy’s Boys,” the review I learned the most from was a 2-star review. I know some authors would be upset by a 2-star review. I don’t look at reviews that way. This reviewer talked about what she didn’t like about the world-building and magic system. She felt the world-building wasn’t sufficiently developed and the magic system was inconsistent. Her criticism made me focus on more fully describing the setting of the story and ensuring the magic system had a clear set of rules. I gave my alpha readers a heads up about what to look for and they helped me, too. I think the series as a whole is stronger because I took this criticism on board and addressed it.
One terrible choice.
Twelve years ago, my mother climbed into a limo with a fae stranger and left without looking back. Seven years ago, my magic came in, marking me as an Earth-witch, the Element most feared by other mages. One month ago, my father exiled me to college in another country.
I may be a stranger in a strange land, but no one will keep me down.
Charlie, Gabe, and Darwin.
Three boys who are more than my match.
My best friend. My new love. My worst enemy.
Are they also killers?
When a fellow student is murdered, the finger of suspicion points at my boys.
Can I prove their innocence?
Or will I be their next victim?
Meet the Bad Boys of Bevington …
Because I’m my class’s sole Earth-witch, I’m in two upper-level classes, out of step with the rest of the first years. I have them both on Fridays. I’m scrolling through the assigned reading for the first of these, Necromancy with Madame Serpa, walking between the theater and a dorm on my way back to Phoenix House, when my playlist switches over from DJ Wraethru’s remix of “High Hopes” by Panic! at the Disco and, in the moment of silence, I hear the very familiar smack of flesh against flesh.
That’s a sound that belongs at the gym, or in the back alleys of Moss Side, not out here.
I tug my earbuds out and shove them in my pocket. Pulling out my keys, I slip the kitty cat, self-defense keyring over the first two knuckles of my left hand and run towards the noise.
Charlie wasn’t kidding about this place being a maze. The noise leads me into a dead-end behind the theater that’s shadowed even on the sunny afternoon. I make out three guys with their backs to me, ringing in a fourth who is hunched over, bl00d dripping from his nose. He’s a Water mage, I’m pretty sure, because they bl33d if you breathe on them too hard. At least one of the guys with their backs to me is a Fire mage. I can taste the sparkly sh!t in the air. And one of them’s fae. Pressure in my ears tells me he’s working a glamor. As the boy they’re circling straightens, wiping his nose, I see it’s the guy from the Dean’s Tea who hid in his hoodie and didn’t say a word.
I sink into the Earth and step back out between the three attackers and their victim, dodging a fist that was meant for the bl33der behind me. I pop back a right cross into Mr. Fist’s eye and follow it with a straight knee to his gut that sends him stumbling back. All three attackers draw up at my unexpected appearance. I keep my guard high as I face them.
“F*ck, where did she come from!” Mr. Fist curses and cups his eye. I dismiss him as a threat. He’s a big, muscular guy and I bet he’s the one who made the Water mage bl33d, but he’s sloppy as f*ck and doesn’t even keep his guard up now that he’s got someone who will f1ght back in front of him.
The guy in the middle steps forward half-a-step. He is a thr3at. I can see it in the intensity in his eyes. The tick of his jaw. He’s also the fae and the pressure in my ears increases until I’m pretty sure they’re bl33ding. He’s beautiful, in the way all the fae are. Ashy-blond hair with dark roots, burning, silvery eyes, and features so finely sculpted they should have been carved by f*cking Michelangelo. A beautiful nightmare, this one.
“Walk away,” he says in that sibilant hiss the fae make when they’re exerting a shit-ton of their will. “This doesn’t concern you.”
I bite the inside of my cheek hard, wincing at the pain, and gather the bl00d on my tongue before I sp1t it at his feet. He draws back, sneering in disgust. The glamor pops audibly and ebbs away.
“Nah, mate.” I give him a bl00dy grin. “It does concern me, ‘cause there’s nothing I hate worse than bullies. So, walk on, f*cker. You’re done here.”
I lift my keyring, points aimed at those burning eyes.
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What I’m reading this week!
My friend recommended I read Josh Lanyon’s Adriene English Mysteries and hot damn, I was hooked from book one. I burned through all 6 books in 5 days, yes, they are that good. There was murder, mystery, romance, tension, angst, and all the feels wrapped up in this series. If you’re looking for a series that keeps you on your toes and has you positively itching to see the two MCs get together (spoiler alert: they do, I promise) this is the series for you.
new from me!
Secrets of the Soul
Soul Solace Book #3
Release date: December 11th, 2023
Secrets and dead bodies put their new bond to the test. Join Kane and Kevin as they put the concept “love conquers all” to the test.
Kane has been keeping his past a secret for so long he’d almost fooled himself into thinking he was safe. Unfortunately, once the bodies start turning up, along with a secret diary surfacing, he realizes that his fantasy of leaving his past behind was just that: a fantasy.
There couldn’t be a worse time to add a mate to his life, but as his bad luck holds, that is exactly when the Fates decide to step in and send him his–as if he needed another thing adding to the unshakeable feeling that he was losing his mind.
Kevin was having the best day ever. He graduated top of his class, his family was finally proud of him, and he met his mate. Everything was going perfectly until the bodies started dropping. Kevin’s patience is stretched thin, and his loyalties are divided when all he really wants to do is protect his new mate.
Kane and Kevin must work together to unravel the secrets and find a killer, while not losing each other in the process.
Triggers include scenes depicting death, mention of stabbing, shooting, being burned alive, torture, being held captive, and family drama.
But if you are looking for an angsty, fated mates romance, with a happily ever after, this is the story for you.
Want to read the first two while you wait?
I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode of Holly’s Quirky Questions.
A huge thank you to EJ. You are awesome!
Next week we have Silvana Falcon
Until then: Find a Spark of Magic Every Day.