Category Archives: Author Posts

Guest post by Terry O’Reilly

I never intended to be a writer. It never occurred to me, not once, as I was growing up that someday I’d be writing stories that would be published. Yet, here I am today at 78 years old, a published author of several dozen books and short stories. How does something like this happen? It’s a tale that some may find interesting.

Several years ago I discovered a free online site on which amateur writers could post their work. I began reading some of the stories and discovered several by a man named Drew Hunt. I found them to be intriguing, and after reading several of them, I decided to write to him and let him know how much I appreciated his writing. We began a regular correspondence, and we became friends.

He mentioned several times he thought I had a knack for writing, and I should try my hand at it. I was amused by this, for as I said, I never imagined myself as an author. He persisted, however, and so, one Christmas I decided to write a story for him as his Christmas gift. It was about a homeless man taken in by a widower during a snowstorm in the week prior to Christmas. I called it One Night In December. It was more a lark than anything, but I worked hard on it and sent it to him.

Drew liked it and began a campaign to get me to post it on the same site on which he posted his works. It took him a while, but his British bulldog tenacity paid off, and I gave in. The story was about 4,000 words in length and covered four days in the lives of the two main characters. To my surprise, within days of the postings I began to receive emails from readers who not only liked the story, but demanded I tell them more about the lives of the homeless man and his rescuer.

I discussed this turn of events with Drew, and with his help I embarked on my journey to becoming an author. Over the next year or so I expanded my original story to include seven Christmases and the intervening years in the story of David and Andrew.

At first, I stumbled and struggled to find things that I thought might be interesting enough to add to the story. Drew encouraged me to write what I knew, and the story became roughly an autobiography as I included many experiences from my own life with dogs, horses, sports, and coming out to my family. Once again, with each new installment, emails arrived expressing appreciation and curiosity as to what would happen next.

By the time ONID (the acronym for One Night in December Drew and I used when discussing the story) was completed, Drew was encouraging me to try publishing it with a professional company. Was he kidding? It turned out he wasn’t. So, knowing it was useless to argue with him, I embarked on finding a place to submit my story.

Again to my surprise, it was accepted by the first publisher I contacted. They assigned me an editor. Since the story was so long, she suggested it be divided into two books. So it became One Night in December and With These Rings. Eventually a third book was added, The Next Generation. The books sold well, and I went on to write several more over the next couples of years on topics other than the lives of David and Andrew.

Drew then approached me, saying a good friend of his was starting her own publishing company and was interested in having me publish with her. This, of course, was JMS. I was excited to be invited. And so began a very happy and satisfying relationship. I have been writing with JMS for ten years.

Surprise, surprise, I am an author.

P.S. Drew and I are still good friends, and BTW, he’s my editor now as well.

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Guest post by Katharine O’Neill

When did you start writing?
I started writing in school. When I was meant to be studying for my GCSE exams, I was writing a novel. Ended up being about 250,000 words, which I wrote in 7 months. I was pretty proud of it at the time, but looking at it later on I cringed. I had been doing a few segments now and then after watching a TV show or listening to Terry Pratchett, inserting myself into that particular world. Then I studied creative writing in a joint honours degree at university, but I didn’t completely focus on my writing until 5 years after graduation. I had been unemployed for about a year, had a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old, and my partner was going into his first year at university to study mental health nursing. I didn’t want to live off an allowance from his bursary and I decided to do something about it. So I put myself on freelance website Upwork and started looking for work. That was 5 years ago and I’ve ghostwritten at least 500 stories. It gave me the confidence to push forward my own work to be published, which finally happened with JMS Books in 2018.

How do you come up with titles and ideas?
Titles I struggle with. Sometimes it comes to me, but other times I have no idea until the story’s written. Those are not easy to come up with. Ideas are a different matter. With my first book A Day to Remember, I used a segment of a consumer show we have over here in the UK as the body of the story, and it worked. I’ve had people asking if I’m going to make it into a series – that I haven’t got sorted yet. Maybe once I’m completely self-publishing and not needing to be reliant on ghostwriting for my income. Now I mix and match tropes or ideas from shows, put them into a little box and then draw each one out as a lucky dip. That works when I’ve got a lot on and I’ve been given free rein of the plot.

Describe a typical writing day.
I get up about 7:30 and get the kids ready for school. We only live a 5-minute walk, so it doesn’t take long to sort them out. I drop them off and come back, which is when I set up in the living room. I try to work between 9 am and 3 pm, but that can often be 9 am to 12 pm depending on mood/motivation/distraction. Then I pick the kids up from school, get them dinner and make sure they know what I look like before I put them to bed. After that, I’m writing from when they go to bed until about midnight. Because of the amount of work I put on myself, it means working practically every day, although I’ve made sure now that Sunday is my day off. Until the kids go to bed. With the pandemic, it’s bits and pieces while I attempt to keep to the same routine.

What is the most difficult part of writing?
Keeping yourself motivated. You get to a point in the story that you don’t want to do but it has to be there. Something else gets very interesting. I also have some undiagnosed issues that have me wanting things in a very set way and if I get distracted in the slightest from what I’m doing, I can’t get back into it and that’s the rest of the day off-balance. I like to think I’m good with change, but I don’t think I am really.

You write both straight and LGBT romances. What’s your preference?
I’m not fussed with either. I do like to write LGBT because it’s something different. I like my women to be confident and my men to be manly in straight romances, and I bring that to my LGBT romances.

Quickfire Questions
Hobbies: Watching horror video games played by Youtuber CJUGames. He’s freaking awesome! The game Outlast was an inspiration to one of my stories with another publisher.

Favourite food: Depends on my mood. Although KFC will always be among the favourites.

Which 3 people would you have for dinner: Thomas Cromwell (he’s actually distantly related to me by marriage, plus my favourite person in history), Sir Tony Robinson (love his documentaries and his passion for history) and comedian Steve Hofstetter (his quick wit is something to behold).

Best part of the day: Having cuddles with my two little monkeys.

Sports: I play field hockey for Derby Hockey Club, and I also swim for Etwall Masters. I’m aiming to compete at national level and/or international level in a few years as a veteran.

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Guest post by Davina Lee

Hook ‘em! And reel ‘em in.

Hello gentle reader. Davina Lee here, taking over the JMS blog. Today, I want to use my five-hundred words to discuss “the hook.”

What is this hook?

The hook is what catches your reader’s attention and makes them want more. It’s that invaluable first impression. Done well, it keeps the pages turning. Done poorly, and the book is set aside to collect dust.

Here’s a few examples of hooks I’ve used:

“Oh Mistress, I love your fingers in my pussy!” — From Girl Friday (on Literotica under my WaxPhilosophic pen name).

“I was raised by my maternal grandparents, after my mother proved she wasn’t up to the task by bleeding out all over their guestroom bed.” — From The Future in Our Stars (a JMS Books Publishing Partner release).

“In the beginning there was the Great Tree, the tree that existed long before the hands of time were set in motion, and longer still than even the most distant relations of humankind had crawled forth from the primordial ooze to stand upright and walk upon the land.” — From Dance Until the World Ends (Coming in September from JMS Books).

These are the first lines from three very different types of stories. My hope is that each one of these lines reached out, grabbed you by the collar and screamed, “This is what kind of story I am. Read me, dammit!”

The first: Dominance and submission hinted at by the word Mistress. A female/female relationship. Lots of hot action by the way she’s carrying on about being stimulated.

The second: You may have to guess the genre from the title, but the first line should have you sitting up in your seat, saying, “Oh, my!” and wondering just what happened.

The third: With all the mystic stuff about The Great Tree, you might guess some sort of fantasy. You would be correct. Just a bit later, the first line of chapter one reads, “A bomb blast rumbled in some distant tunnel — the third one this week.” With these two sentences, you’d better be thinking Dystopian Fantasy, or I haven’t done my job.

Do your hooks have to be this intense and right up front? No. But, don’t spend too much time wandering around the garden before you find the corpse in the flowerbed (if murder mysteries are your thing.)

Your readers’ time is precious. Don’t make them wade through one-hundred pages to decide that the book is interesting.

“But what about [insert your favorite classic novel here]?” you ask. It meanders all over the place.

The key word here is classic. You’re reading it based on its proven popularity. Until you get to that point in your writing career, you’re just another genre fiction writer, cranking out pulp novels.

And that’s fine. Embrace it. Genre fiction pulls in a lot of money. So suck those readers in with your finely crafted hook. Plant a seed in their head that they can’t shake loose until the final chapter. Keep those pages turning.

Hook ‘em! And reel ‘em in.

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Guest post by Sharon Maria Bidwell

We’re celebrating a decade in publishing from JMS. Looking back led me to one of my past creations so I hope you enjoy this character interview written not just for amusement. Character interviews can be research and development devices for writers. Here’s a chat I had with Jay Reid from my Snow Angel trilogy, which took place between book 2 and 3.

* * * *

In the realm of the imagination, anything is possible. Jay won’t know I’m here until I let him. Readers want this interview, but he’s preoccupied, delving into a box, pulling out an old textbook. Dean used to help him with his homework. What would he think, to see Jay flipping to the back page where, amongst the scribbling most students do, three letters stand out, darker than the other doodles: J4D?

Determined to pin him down, I take the book and trace the letters with a fingertip. “Weren’t you worried about April discovering this? Dean? Another classmate?”

“All the above.” Jay’s coy smile doesn’t hide his amusement.

“When did you know you loved him?”

“How old must one be?”

A good question. “You couldn’t have foreseen a time you’d get together.”

“No.” The paltry word says much, his tone melancholy, disbelieving. “I often feel I’m dreaming. I keep thinking I can’t possibly be this lucky.”

“Lucky? Some would say Dean is the type of luck they can do without.”

“And I’m tired of hearing crap from people who don’t know him.”

I blink. This is hardly the quiet Jay we know and love, although his manner reminds me he can also be vocal.

“No one gets it,” he mutters.

“So explain.”

“Why should we?” He looks up, everything about his posture screaming defiance. “I know what people think of Dean but they just don’t get him. Yes, half the time he’s oblivious. He doesn’t realise anything he says might hurt another person’s feelings.”

“You call this defending him?” I fail to tone down the sarcasm.

Jay laughs. “He’s oblivious because he can’t imagine anything he says being that important. He knows he’s good-looking. Deep down he sees that as superficial.”

“Many would call Dean a superficial person.”

“He’s not. Yes, he lives for fun because it’s easier and why shouldn’t he? Dean didn’t need anything else … until now. He didn’t have a reason to be serious.”

“And now he does?”

“You can’t get much more serious than this for Dean. This isn’t easy for him. I understand why he’s confused. I couldn’t believe it myself at first, but Dean loves me, wouldn’t want to change a thing about me.” He sounds pleased with that last statement. “April once accused him of being happy to screw any orifice and if marooned on a desert island with nothing but men, I couldn’t see him going without for too long. He’d screw a passing –”

I hold up a hand, not wanting to go with the image of what might be passing; Jay’s quietly laughing.

“Sex is just sex in Dean’s eyes. Love … love is something else. He loves me because I’m the one person who sees him for what he is, and I love what I see and accept him without question. If I can do that for him, he wants to do the same for me.”

“And who is he?”

“You already know, more than anyone. He’s insecure, vulnerable, has a temper. He can sulk, be sullen, likes to tease to the point of being spiteful. Crosses the line.”

I give him an expressive look. “And these are his good points?”

“Sure, he goes too far, says things he doesn’t mean, then regrets the hurt the moment he’s caused it. It’s a protective mechanism, self-preservation. He’s got a soft heart, an aggressive sense of justice. Decides something is right or wrong and sticks to it. He’s loyal. Will defend someone he cares about to the end. He’s passionate about life, sex, people he loves, can be amazingly affectionate. Dean looks at me as though he can’t believe he’s this lucky, when all the time I’m thinking the same about him. What amazes me is so many others can’t see these things. So, it’s down to me and I end up defending him.” Jay pauses. “It will be a long haul for us.”

I hate to ask, because I can’t imagine these two not being together now, and because some readers would love me to revisit them indefinitely, but I don’t see a reason, for that requires more conflict and surely they’ve been through enough. “Do you think you two will make it?”

It’s Jay’s turn to be surprised. “Dean hasn’t gone through all this to give up now and neither have I.”

“Still, you’ve grown up with prejudice. Dean is new to it and has more stacked against him. There are those who can’t believe he’s in a relationship with another man, those who don’t believe he’s serious, and those who don’t want you with him.”

Jay’s reply sounds like the most natural and obvious thing in the world. “I’ve got the one person I always wanted. My feelings have never diminished. I don’t doubt Dean for a minute.” Certainty makes his eyes shine. “We’re stronger together, but Dean is as strong as I make him. I won’t let anyone come between us, and neither will he.”

Oddly, I share his confidence. Some relationships may seem out of the ordinary, but they defy explanation, the odds, and what everyone else wants to make of them.

* * * *

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Guest post by Tom Munroe

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

They come from a variety of sources. My first book, Not On My Bucket List, was based on an online conversation with someone in another country that got me thinking, “What if?” My third book, I Love You Ten Million Times Over, actually came to me in a dream.

And the exotic locations for your stories? Have you visited them?

Yes. I want my readers to be taken on a certain amount of fantasy, setting my books in locales, sometimes exotic, that they may not have visited. I also hope that in this way they will learn about people in other countries, how they live, how they think.

And you also seem to set your books against current events.

Definitely. They may be fiction, but I want them to have a relevance to today, to events we may still be dealing with.

Immigrants and immigrant’s rights seems to be a recurring theme with you.

Absolutely. I am never shy about reminding people that we are a nation of immigrants.

What do you want readers to take away from your books, remember about them?

That love can be found anywhere. It crosses international borders, different cultures. And that there is an absolute worth to every individual.

Here is an excerpt from the book I am currently working on, High Water Mark, set amid the historic floods in Venice in 2019.

Continue reading Guest post by Tom Munroe