Sunday Surprise

And it’s a guest! Yes, we met in person – at that Anthology Workshop I mentioned the other day! And she’s in Nightly Bites Volume 2! And in Celebrating Male Lovers with her pen names! And let’s not forget she curated Love Magik Glow, another great bundle that includes yours truly… Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Kate Pavelle!

I met Barb G. Tarn at a writing workshop in Oregon. Aside from sharing a car to get from the airport in Portland to the coastal and scenic Lincoln City, we also share a European heritage, a love of adventure, and a passion for storytelling.

She was kind enough to invite me onto her blog today, so I’m here to answer a few questions about my recent spy thriller release, Unsavory Company.

Is the book a stand-alone, or are there books I’m missing?

Aha! A good question. Many years ago I had decided to write a book. I was moving along quite nicely, but some “helpful” article in the Writer’s Digest said that new writers often start out strong and finish strong, but the middle tends to sag. And to keep the middle from sagging, it’s necessary to invent all these secondary plot threads, which will reinforce it.

So I threw in about ten totally unnecessary plot threads, which more or less obscured the main plotline. It was a lesson learned, and I chalked up the 250,000 words to experience. However, since I still loved the characters, I invented Gina, who meets my bad boys from my first effort at a thriller.

But will there be more?

Yes, I plan to write more in Peter Christoff’s world. I have another Gina Francesca Migliore book in the works right now.

Why the Balkan War?

My family defected from Czechoslovakia when I was a teen, so I had a first-hand experience at what it’s like to be a refugee, not speak a language, and not have money. I have also experienced fear, because we had been pursued by the Czechoslovak equivalent of the KGB back then. You can read about all this in my Cancelled Czech Files series book On the Run. In Unsavory Company, I wanted to draw on some of those old memories and feelings, but empower Gina to take action.

Second reason has to do with art smuggling. After the Eastern Bloc regimes fell apart, the power vacuum in the Warsaw Pact gave rise to a ruthless form of capitalist pursuit, where roving gangs of “entrepreneurs” were stealing art from churches, castles, and even cemeteries, and were selling historical artifacts to wealthy buyers in the West. When I had returned to Czech Republic in 1990, I was stunned by the damage. The Balkan War had occurred near this period, was influenced by similar forces, and the Balkans were always a crossroads of cultures and commerce. The culturally rich and historically intricate environment drew me in both as a setting, and as a subject for further research.

You mention a CIA source in your acknowledgments. Who was he?

Um… the lady in question had been quite gracious with her input. She had me run the plot by her, and when I had a question, she suggested ways in which the system would, or would not have, worked. In many cases, she had said, “I cannot answer that question – but tell me what you are trying to achieve. There might be another way.” She does not wish to be named, but she took great glee in making suggestions and laughing at the potential situations. In her experience, this plot was feasible, especially in a pre-digital era.

I had decided, from the outset, not to make my CIA field operatives a part of some bizarre “black works” action. These actions are outside the law and unconstitutional, and the blasè portrayal of intelligence work as “off the books” discredits the real, and necessary, work of men and women in the intelligence community in the eyes of the reading and movie-watching public.

So… is it true you got your start writing gay romance?

Absolutely! Even though my first seven novels were gay romance and were published by Dreamspinner Press under Kate Pavelle, now I write all kinds of contemporary and paranormal romance, both LGBT and “straight,” under the Olivette Devaux pen name. Kate Pavelle is now reserved for humor, thriller and suspense, weird fiction, and so on. The genre and general feel of my books is always apparent from the book descriptions.

Thank you for having me over, Barb! For those of you who’d like to pick up a copy of Unsavory Company, it’s available on Amazon in both mobi and print, and at many other online stores in the ePub format.

If you would like to keep abreast of news from my writing cave, claim the military historical humor story below. Doing so will add your e-mail to my newsletter. If you find out it’s not for you, you can unsubscribe at any time!

Free story: Naked Gun by Kate Pavelle, claim your copy here:


Sunday Surprise

And this is the last author interview for the fantasy bundle. Stay tuned for more author interviews and more bundles. Ladies and gentlemen, last but not least, please welcome Lee French!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in Olympia, WA, the wacky heart of the Pacific Northwest. My workspace is a beanbag next to a coffee table and a large window with a view of the incessant rain. Sometimes, the sun comes out. It’s disturbing and distracting.

Why do you write?

I write because not writing is harder. After a few days without writing, unless I’ve been doing physically exhausting work, I get cranky and weird(er). At this point, I’m more or less unable to work at a regular job anymore because my writer brain muscles are so strong.

When did you start writing?

Shortly after I started reading. I was a late bloomer, not really grasping the whole letters make words thing until the later parts of first grade. Once I got it, though, I got it. In second grade, I won an honorable mention in the local Scholastic Book Fair for my entry Adventures in the Mean Old Man’s Backyard. In high school, I wrote a novel-length piece of crap that fortunately no longer survives, and I kept dabbling all over the place. In my early 30s, I started playing D&D online, in a message board format and really found my writing voice. After doing that for several years, I discovered NaNoWriMo and wrote a few horrible novels before finally producing something worth sharing about five years ago.

What genre(s) do you write?

I have trouble sticking to one subgenre and currently have over a dozen titles across epic fantasy, sword & sorcery fantasy, young adult urban fantasy, superhero science fiction, and cyberpunk. I enjoy writing all of them, and have plans for more subgenres in the future.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

My goal when I started in this business was to become a member of SFWA. After achieving that as an indie last year, my new goal has become to make a decent living at this crazy job. The biggest challenge, as with any author, is marketing. So far, my path involves working conventions about half the weekends of every year. I have events scheduled for every weekend of May and October, plus 1-2 every other month of the year. It’s tiring and takes away from writing time, but it works decently well. In fact, I’ve done so much of that my booth partner and I wrote a book about how to hand-sell books at conventions, called Working the Table: An Indie Author’s Guide to Conventions.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

It’s a job. Treat it like one. Writing may be an art form, but earning a living from art works the same as earning a living from any other pursuit. Put in the hours, get things done, give your best effort, and treat your customers well.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I like the term “plantser,” a portmanteau of planner and pantser. My process is generally to write up half an outline, settle on an end point, and start writing. Experience tells me I will almost always go far enough off the rails with cool ideas by the midpoint that outlining that deep into the book is worthless. My writing speed is on the faster end because I do it full time. Last year, I had 4 book releases, 1 novella release, 4 anthology appearances, plus a 3-in-1 release of a trilogy (with bonus material also written last year). This year will have less because I’m editing an anthology for the first time, along with having various personal issues in my real life.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle.

Al-Kabar is Mulan meets Arabian Knights for grown-ups. The story is one of a collection of standalone novels that will eventually have eleven. Each book follows a different woman in a different culture of my fantasy world, Ilauris, while she deals with problems common to women. The first book of this non-series series, Damsel in Distress, dealt with domestic violence, and this one delves into the strictures society places on women, especially regarding profession. The main character, Fakhira, pretends to be a man to accomplish her goals.

Tell us about your latest book.

My newest release is the fourth book of my young adult urban fantasy series, Spirit Knights. Ghost Is the New Normal continues the story of Claire, a teenage girl whose favorite way to solve problems is punching them in the face. She’s a veteran of foster care in modern Portland who wound up becoming the first female inducted in an ancient, secretive order of knights tasked with hunting ghosts.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

I’m currently working on book 5 of The Greatest Sin, a second cyberpunk novella, book 5 of Spirit Knights, the next Ilauris book, a new book for my superheroes universe, and a handful of short stories for various venues.

Yes, I really am working on all of them at once.


Lee French

Fantasy & Science Fiction author

Sunday Surprise

And it’s another bundle author! Her book is the first in the bundle, and it’s a great fantasy romance with two damaged characters who can’t help falling in love… as the world falls down, like in the David Bowie song from the movie Labyrinth. Sorry, digressing. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Karen Abrahamson!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in a lovely small town on the west coast of Canada called Sechelt. I have a home near the ocean with an office that looks out onto a bird sanctuary and wetlands. It never snows much in this area, so the climate is lovely all year long. We have deer, bald eagles and whales as regular residents and bear in the spring and summer.
Although I have a great office, I actually do my first draft writing from an easy chair positioned so that I can watch the sunrise over the ocean. It’s the best way of all to start my days.

Why do you write?

Is there an option? I have always written. I started with poetry when I was in grade one or two and I’ve been writing ever since except for one hiatus when I threw myself into riding dressage horses. Writing is a comfort and a passion and chance to explore so many things. I think it’s also a way for me to share the things that I’ve seen in my travels across the world. I’ve done a lot of travelling and it is all fuel for writing, whether it’s the people, the culture or the environment. With the world changing so rapidly these days and feeling so much less safe, maybe the writing is also a commemoration of what was. That’s a sad thought.

When did you start writing?

As I mentioned above, I started in early grade school with poetry. I can recall writing stories when I was twelve, but I only started to look at the form seriously when I was an adult. About 20 years ago (my goodness that’s a while ago!), I started to put more effort into my writing and it was fifteen years ago that I got serious. That means that I gave myself permission to put my writing first every day.

What genre(s) do you write?

At the moment I’m writing mystery, but fantasy seems to creep in fairly regularly and I have enjoyed writing urban fantasy. When I need a relief from the dark places that those genres can take me, I enjoy writing romance—usually romantic suspense, sometimes paranormal romance—because who doesn’t need a happily ever after from time to time?

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

My goal is to make a living as a writer, or at least to supplement my income with my writing much more than I have. I try to write at least four novels a year plus a few short stories, but these days as an indie author, success requires a lot more than simply writing a good story. So I’m not only trying to improve my story craft through practice, but I’m also taking courses on social marketing—not my strong suit. I’m much more of the reclusive writer-type!

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Write what you love. I know there are indie pundits who talk about analyzing the market and then writing to market and I know that is a good plan for making money, but the writing isn’t just about the money. Writing, for me, is about exploring the places and spaces that interest me. As a result I seem to write mash-up genres. My latest book, a novella published by Guardbridge Books, is a historical fantasy mystery—fantasy because one of the protagonists is a puppet, but the mystery is plainly real world.  The book I’m working on at the moment is a mystery set in an alternate history world.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

Once upon a time when I started writing novels I was an outliner. I completed scene/chapter sheets for each book before I started to write. Then I’d sit down and start to write. The sheets were great, but what I found early on was that about half way through the manuscript the characters and story would take over and the ending was usually something I hadn’t envisioned. What those sheets did was seem to get me through the ‘muddle in the middle’ without stumbling. But gradually the story and characters took over earlier and earlier until now I write into the mist without an outline. The down side is that I often find myself throwing out 25,000 words or 50,000 words because I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere. This isn’t that big an issue, because I’m a fairly fast writer when things are flowing.

Tell us more about your book in the bundle

The Crystal Courtesan is pure fantasy. It came to me as an idea out of an image of a woman with crystals all over her skin. I imagined that those crystals were actually the ‘evil’ drawn out of the men the courtesans were with, that were then extruded and crystalized on the courtesan’s skin. The Crystal Courtesan is about the last of her kind, who has hidden for years after a dark force overthrew the kingdom. It’s a love story, too.

Tell us about your latest book

As I mentioned above, my latest book is a lush historical fantasy mystery set in Burma/Myanmar in the early 1800s. It involves magical puppets, a murder that will have disastrous consequences for the puppet troupe, nature spirits, and courtly subterfuge. It is called Death By Effigy and is available as a paperback. I expect that the ebook version will be available shortly.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Always. I have the second book in the Burmese Puppet mystery series already written and in the editing process. It is called A Death in Passing. Look for it in June/July.
There is a paranormal romance awaiting editing that involves a woman on the run and a Selkie that should be out in the late summer.
Finally, I am in the throes of completing the alternate history mystery that takes place in a world where the Ottoman Empire never fell. Instead the Ottomans overthrew Catherine the Great of Russia and the remains of Russia only exists in a small country caught between the Ottoman Empire and China. Of course, there are other impacts on the world, too. Like the American Revolution might have succeeded to a point, but the Anglo-German Empire settled most of North America…

Enter political subterfuge, the murder of a teenaged girl, and a jaded detective and that’s the premise of the story. I’m excited about the book, but it has to go to first readers and through the editing process before it will be ready for the public.

Other books planned for this year include a return to my urban fantasy Cartographer series. The second book in the Phoebe Clay mystery series is also planned. This time Phoebe takes on modern day Myanmar.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to share my thoughts and work!


To find more of Karen’s fantasies, mysteries and romance visit her website



Author Central


Sunday Surprise

And it’s another guest! His book just went live! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Bobby Treat!

Where do you live and write from?

I live in Round Rock, Texas, just north of Austin.

Why do you write?

I write because I have to. If we didn’t feel an inner need for it, it’s really too much work for too little money for the vast majority of writers.

When did you start writing?

I was 17 years old, I think, and the very first character is still there today. He faded to the background and became a mysterious, shadowy figure over the years, but he’s still there!

What genre(s) do you write?

I’m not completely sure! Is erotic mystery romance space opera a genre? I go where the characters demand I go. I hope that doesn’t leave readers confused in the end, but it may keep them guessing for twenty chapters!

What does your writing routine consist of?

I’m not a “routine” kind of guy. Most days I go to a fried chicken place and spend four to eight hours reading, writing, web surfing, and chatting with the help — but my most productive solid writing hours tend to be midnight to four A.M., lying on my back with a Macbook Air on my stomach. Sometimes I write 3,000 words in the middle of a single night, but other times it takes me two weeks to write that much.

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities?

I know more English vocabulary than I allow myself to use. There’s no need using $40 words nobody knows, right? I’m good at grammar and punctuation, and I know when to break the rules. I believe in character and story, not rules or genre stereotypes. How did I get that way? I don’t know! In a nutshell? I have no idea! I did win spelling bees in elementary school, and I browsed dictionaries when I was in junior high. I cut my reading teeth on comic books, the Black Stallion, Call of the Wild, David Copperfield, and lots of science fiction.

Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?

I’m still inspired by the science fiction I read growing up, especially E. E. (Doc) Smith’s Lensman Series, Robert Silverberg’s To Live Again, Clifford D. Simak’s Time is the Simplest Thing, Tanith Lee’s Birthgrave, Gordon R. Dickson’s Childe Cycle, Roger Zelazny’s This Immortal and Lord of Light, and Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves.

HOWEVER, I want to write a more grown up and modernized version of some of that. Doc Smith was mired in the sexism of his time (but a friendly sort; he was no misogynist). Asimov avoided romance at all costs, and almost all science fiction avoided sex in the 50s and 60s. Silverberg’s To Live Again is a notable exception, but that was 1969. There are still many science fiction writers who can’t write about personal relationships. I’m working to avoid those limits.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I am the second one, what writers like to call a “pantser”. That, the lack of a routine, and waiting for characters to tell me what they want tend to make me a slow writer.

27916697Tell us about your latest book (add link if published)

The Fire Within is that “erotic mystery romance space opera” I mentioned before. You can read a full description at the link.

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

It would be nice to make more money and think less about marketing (traditional publishing), but I have no patience for endlessly searching for agents, fielding dozens of rejections, and all that. Self-publishing is easier, faster, and I don’t have to convince anyone but the reader. Now, if I can just get a few readers!

Any other projects in the pipeline?

The sequel (Kell of the Deep Space Corps Book 2) is The Dragon Within. I have it written, but it needs rewrites due to changes in the first book. That will take me a bit of time, but it will get done!

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

My only goals are (1) to have fun doing it and (2) to find a few readers of a like mind. There may not be millions, but I know there are a few. Here’s to finding them!

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

A friend recently told me to put it out there; no more waiting to make it perfect. That’s good advice if you can follow it.

Where to find him:


And to the series website

The book on Goodreads



Random Friday

I didn’t want to leave out our Author of the Month. She’s also a contributor to Strange Portals! She finally found the time to answer my writerly questions, so I’m very happy to introduce you all to C.G. Coppola!

57a04-strange2bportalsWhere do you live and write from?

Well I currently reside in Jacksonville, Fl but I write from my laptop which normally sticks to my desk but may move to the recliner or the table. Or pretty much around the house. But it does stay in the house. I’m not one for writing outdoors or in coffee shops around people. I’m a little paranoid they’d read it. And point out the grammatical errors.

Why do you write?

Because I have to (boring response, ay?) I just love writing. I love everything about it, the freedom it gives you and the power. I’ve been doing it since I was little and am entirely convinced it’s what I’m supposed to do with my life.

When did you start writing?

When my mother took away my Barbie dolls. I was forced to record their adventures instead of playing them out. Strange tESCAPE FROM HARRIZEL VS 2 - 2000ransition but a good one, I think.

What genre(s) do you write?

I like Science Fiction and Fantasy because it opens the flood gates to where everything and anything can happen.  And that’s what I like in my stories. Everything and anything.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Music. The stories are in the music.

Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?

I’m a mental-plotting-panster. Is that a thing? What I mean is I see the story in my head: I know the big events and main arc, but the details… why should I get in the way of the characters explaining all that? PLUS I might’ve gotten an event wrong in which the characters will right everything again. So I guess it’s a little of both.

Tell us about your latest book

DISCOVERY AT NERWOLIX- VS2 - 2000So the last book I released was the third in my series, Arizal Wars. The book is Discovery at Nerwolix, and follows the next chapter in an epic Sci-fi Romance plot that involves aliens, new worlds, lots and lots of battles, friendship and even some sex! I released it in September last year and have done little (probably no) advertising, which is why you haven’t heard of it. – Smashwords – Amazon

Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?

I’m going Indie right now but realizing I don’t have the attention span or motivation to market. Which is sad. I usually say I’m going to do this or get that done and I just sit down and write some more. Which is all fine except no one reads it. And my characters only exist on the page. I may try traditional publishing—who knows!

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Oh yes! I’m working on a fantasy piece told from two perspectives: a runaway princess and a rogue assassin. Together, and with the help of a young street kid, the trio escapes their toxic realm in search of safety in the White Wastelands that lay beyond. I’ve got some romance and of course, lots of action again! I can’t stop writing action.

What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?

I just want to write. Seriously. If I had a fan base and a book tour and a lot of positive feedback—all of that would be great. A perk, you could say. But I want to pump out stories all day as a day job and hopefully make enough to live. Even meekly, if possible. I should probably be doing a whole lot more to achieve it. Like, I don’t know, maybe advertising? Getting more into the community? Right now I’m just focused on writing. I am going to the Writer’s Digest Conference in NY next month. Maybe I’ll get some pointers and learn some stuff to help!

PLAGUE OF MYBENCIA - VS 2 - 2000What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

I don’t think I held onto any one specific advice during my studies (B.A. in Creating Writing. Woop!) but the thing that all my teachers and established writers have agreed to: never give up. Keep working. Keep reading. And keep writing.

Where to find C.G. Coppola or

twitter: writercgcoppola

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