Lloyd Meeker

Guest Post: Blood & Dirt by Lloyd A. Meeker

Author's Spotlight

A Newbie’s Adventures in Writing a Series Character – Lloyd A. Meeker

With the release of Blood and Dirt in August, I entered the ranks of authors who write a series. That’s not something I anticipated when I wrote Enigma, the first Russ Morgan mystery, in 2012. For the first year after it came out I thought of it as a one-off short novella—I certainly didn’t anticipate readers’ interest in Russ as a character. Sometimes the author is the last to know what’s going on.

I love series characters, though. I cut my series mystery-reading teeth on Rex Stout, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, just as I’d cut my series fantasy-reading teeth on Tolkien, LeGuin and Zelazny. I happily fell in love with the idea of a story arc lasting longer than a single book—that’s the stuff of epics!

Whatever comes of Russ Morgan’s series of mysteries, however, I’m pretty sure it won’t be epic. No great battles between good and evil, no saga stretching across generations, just Russ Morgan, a decent guy in his fifties, still working on his relationship to the troubled world he lives in. He’s an interesting character to me, for reasons that may border on the narcissistic.

Like every other new-ish author, I received the inevitable advice to write what I know. So for Russ I drew heavily on my own experience, then added some embellishments. Russ is psychically sensitive, and so am I. I don’t see auras like Russ, but I sure feel them when I’m standing next to someone. Being in a crowd takes a lot of energy for me, although Russ is tougher than I am and manages better.

Russ and I both are grateful for long-term sobriety. That’s a truly spectacular thing, no need for any embellishment there. Colorado is my home state, and Russ’, too. I lived in Denver for many years, and it was the natural place to use as Russ’ home base. When Colorado legalized marijuana cultivation, that gave me a natural opening to write Blood and Dirt.

Mostly, though, Russ and I share an introspective, philosophical approach to life. Russ likes to think about things. He wonders about people, their motivation, their wounds and hopes. He ponders moral issues without pre-emptive certainty. He’s fascinated by power differential and the interplay of personalities. He thinks about the human footprint on the natural world. And ultimately, he seeks to live a spiritually authentic life outside the structures of religion. An AA meeting is as close as he cares to come to collective spiritual practice.

So what am I trying to do in the stories Russ has to tell? First and foremost, I want to tell intriguing, satisfying mysteries. Beyond that, I don’t know how to say it succinctly, but I want to write the stories of a deeply human, compassionate, basically gentle man who engages the world with unflinching honesty and a minimum of entitlement.

I want Russ to grow, engage, love, grieve, celebrate—and best of all, solve mysteries that readers enjoy. I know I’ll grow as a writer as I work to deliver them.

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BloodDirt_cvr-Full SizeBlurb: Family squabbles can be murder. Psychic PI Russ Morgan investigates a vandalized marijuana grow in Mesa County Colorado, landing in the middle of a ferocious family feud that’s escalating in a hurry. Five siblings fight over the family ranch as it staggers on the brink of bankruptcy, marijuana its only salvation. Not everyone agrees, but only one of them is willing to kill to make a point. Russ also has a personal puzzle to solve as he questions his deepening relationship with Colin Stewart, a man half his age. His rational mind says being with Colin is the fast track to heartbreak, but it feels grounding, sane, and good. Now, that’s really dangerous…

Buy Links: Amazon || Wilde City Press

Author Links: Website || Twitter || Amazon Author Page

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Angel Martinez, Author Spotlight

The Scattershot Author: Or What Happened to the Writer Part? by Angel Martinez

Author's SpotlightOnce upon a time, there was a single process with a single purpose.

Step 1: Write and polish

Step 2: Ferret out submission guidelines (often at the library)

Step 3: Put together the packet – cover letter, synopsis, first three chapters

Step 4: Print out (or in the old days copy) aforesaid packet

Step 5: Wait in horrendous line at the post office to send out same, usually one at a time. No simultaneous submissions, you know

Step 6: Wait for reply, sometimes as long as two years or perhaps not at all.

The good old days? Not really. It was a lot of fuss, a lot of work, and ridiculous amounts of time waiting for rejection letters that told you nothing. But some days I still miss the single channel simplicity of those days. You were a writer and you wrote.

The world has a habit of changing, and so it did for publishing over the last fifteen years. Drastically. Then just when authors were starting to get the hang of this brave new world, this you-can’t-just-write-anymore world, publishing pulled the rug out from under us again. Amazon wants you as an exclusive author, or readers may not see your books. Facebook wants more money (shocking) and threatens to delete your posts if you dare to promote without paying. The European Union suddenly taxes e-books at an astonishing percentage. All Romance decides it no longer wants to be merely a distribution point and throws its hat into the publishing ring. It’s no longer simply enough to write. We are forced to fight tooth and nail for every scrap of visibility.

What’s a poor author to do? Do you simply write and ignore it? Do you try new genres until you’ve scattered your story breadcrumbs far and wide along the publishing ground, hoping someone will find the trail? Do you make yourself crazy and spend all the time in promotion? Do you crawl under a rock and cry?

I’m not going to pretend I have magic answers, but there is one thing we all must do – be willing to adapt. The rules change, they will always change. There may have been a single way and a single answer long ago, but not now. Genre authors not contracted by the big six houses must be willing to channel their inner mad scientists, to experiment, to leap into the void sometimes.

Authors have leaped. The term “hybrid author” is suddenly a legitimate thing. Still makes me think of a rose garden or varieties of tomatoes, but I’m fine with that. Hybrids tend to be more disaster resistant. They survive droughts and plagues. It also means we’re looking at ourselves more as contracted talent instead of as employees. As contractors, authors have more options than we ever did before – take advantage of all you can.

  • Submit to publishers, but do it carefully. Know your market and know the players. Don’t submit in desperation and don’t accept a contract that way either.
  • Never feel obligated to the publisher. Grateful for good staff and a well run house, yes, but obliged to submit all your work there? No. Shop around. Eggs in one basket is no longer a good thing these days, for so many reasons.
  • Take a serious look at self-publishing. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a viable, respectable option these days, provided you do it well. Not only does it give you more control, but it also gives you a better sense for the business.
  • Terrified of going it alone? Consider a collective or cooperative venture with other like-minded authors. When you have a trusted group of friends and a pool of talent, the terrors of publishing diminish considerably. Division of labor is a wonderful thing.
  • Genre jumping? Approach with care. Sure, contemporary romance will outsell everything else across the boards, but it might not work for you. Don’t chase trends and make sure you write what you love before you try to please the market. Some of the most successful authors of gay romance write in astoundingly specific sub-sub-genre niches. (Historical paranormal m/m romance? Who even knew that would be a thing a few years ago?)

Scattered though our attentions may be these days, it’s the organized, persistent, and adaptable author who will find success. Sleep with one eye open, kids. Ear to the ground and other clichéd aphorisms from our primitive hunting past. I’m betting the changes in the publishing industry have only begun.

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Angel MartinezAbout Angel: Angel Martinez has been lurking in the published world since 2006, when a small press decided it was a good idea to publish a short story with illustrations about an intelligent planet. From that rather shaky start, Angel now has twenty-one works published and won the 2014 Rainbow Award in the Best Gay Scifi/ Futuristic category for her novel Rarely Pure and Never Simple. Angel is a tenacious advocate for genre fiction and maintains a secret, embarrassing passion for old anime. (Voltron, anyone?)

You can find Angel’s work at Mischief Corner Books, Dreamspinner, MLR Press, Amber Allure and Totally Bound. For more info, news and silliness, please visit the website:

Angel Martinez

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Musa Publishing, Viki Lyn

Guest Post and Spotlight: “Blue Skye” by Viki Lyn

blueskye-200Thank you for having me as a guest today! I’m thrilled that Blue Skye is available for .99 cents at all vendor sites through September 3 (thank you Musa Publishing!)

Blue Skye is the first book set in the fictional town of Woodland Village. The town is its own character and weaves the three books together.

The village had to be close to Manhattan by train because Skye Taylor lives in an artist loft in New York City. And, I wanted the town to be a weekend destination for New Yorkers. The Village has a beautiful harbor and is a perfect bay for sailing. Enough tourists visit on the weekends to support art galleries, a local coffeehouse and a gourmet grocery story. This had to be a thriving upscale town that supported my character’s professions and lifestyle. Continue reading

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