Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

SpecMusicMuse: Interview with Stephen Zimmer

StephenZImmer_AuthorPhotoToday, for the Rayden Valkyrie Blog Tour, I interview Stephen Zimmer and ask him questions about the editor/author relationship. Enjoy!


What would you like to tell readers about your Rayden Valkyrie novels?

The Rayden Valkyrie novels have loads of action, and all kinds of characters, creatures and other elements that fantasy and sword and sorcery fans love. But above all, these novels center around a very special character, one that I have found to be inspirational to me in my own life.

HeartofALion_CoverThough she travels another world in a setting that we would find ancient, she is a character that in my eyes is needed in the world of today. In a world that is shrouded in uncertainty, she serves as a beacon of resolve, self-determination, and self-confidence.

How important is having a good editor?

It is critically important, as a good editor saves you from yourself in many instances. When you are a creative individual, and at the center of a project like writing a novel, there are simply things that you may not see. A good editor helps in catching those potential pitfalls. They are your literary guardian angel.

ThunderHorizonCover_1200X800What are vital parts to the author/editor relationship?

It centers around the ability to trust and communicate. The author must see that the editor has their best interests at heart and wants the final manuscript to be in the best form possible. The author needs to be confident that the editor is not working to change their voice, but instead bolster it.

An author and editor have to have the kind of relationship where both feel comfortable discussing things that come up in the editing phase, without worry of anyone getting upset or offended. Authors should not be “thin-skinned” about the things that an editor might point out. In some cases, an element initially seen as problematic may just be a matter of the author explaining what is being set up for later in the case of a series.

Trust and a good environment for communication are essential for navigating the editing phase.

How many revisions do you go through before you feel a novel you write is ready to be sent to the editor?

I don’t have a strict number of revisions, but I do go back through a manuscript several times before turning it over to an editor. I aim to get my copy as clean as possible, and also work hard to try to find any problematic elements possible, and address them, before turning it over. Writers can easily find themselves revising things forever, but once I find that the manuscript is going smoothly and I’m not finding anything problematic on my end, I turn it over.

If your editor could be described as a song, what song would that be?

That’s a great question! I can think of many options to consider, but I’ll take the Joe Cocker version of “With a Little Help from My Friends” (I like his vocals!), because an editor certainly is your friend and they stick by you to help you get by, with more than a little help too!

Where can readers find your novels?

My novels are available in both print and eBook format, and can be found at, Barnes and Noble, and all other retailers (and if you cannot find the print version on the shelf, the novels are available in the Ingram distribution catalog that most every library and bookstore orders through).

RaydenValkyrie_SolGeirsdottir_PhotoCreditSilvioWolfBuschRagnarStormbringer_BrockOHurn_PhotoCredit_SilvioWolfBuschSay, isn’t there also a trailer to a TV series pilot somehwere…?

Yes there is, the first teaser trailer to Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart! And you can find it right here:

August 21, 2017 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , | 2 Comments

SpecMusicMuse—Interview with RJ Sullivan

HauntingBlue_CoverI had the honor of getting to interview RJ Sullivan, the best ghost story writer of all time. (Okay, I had to say that. The ghosts that follow him around threatened to haunt me if I didn’t).  Enjoy!

Introduce yourself to the readers.

I’m best known for my paranormal thrillers, currently a trilogy–two of those are ghost stories and all three are loosely connected. Between the three books, I introduce my two series characters, punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer and Rebecca Burton, paranormal investigator, woman of mystery/, and not-so-secret druid. My first novel came out in 2010 (more on that below). Seventh Star put out books two and three.

I grew up in Indiana. A lifelong Trekker, SF fan, particularly of the literary sort (Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, and the usual etceteras). Star Wars, comic books (strong preference for Marvel/Spider-man, though I am also an avid Wonder Woman reader). Oddly enough, horror and paranormal fiction third and fourth after the rest. I grew up imagining myself an author of a decidedly sci-fi slant. You just never know. I guess this is where I plug my Red Lotus ebook novellas, where I let my space opera inclinations run wild. It’s the story of the trials and tribulations of the crew of an antiquated asteroid mining ship. The third story in the series comes out this fall. You can learn about all of this at


What is Haunting Blue about?

Haunting Blue was my first novel, which was first published in 2010 and which went out of print earlier this year (on purpose when the contract rights expired). This new edition by Seventh Star puts the trilogy out by the same publishing home for the firstInterior1_FINAL_WEB time. It features new art by Bonnie Wasson, the artist for Haunting Obsession and Virtual Blue (the direct sequel to Haunting Blue) so the series now has a unified look, and some tweaks and corrections. “Blue” is a high school punk girl from Indianapolis who is “forcibly relocated” when her mother’s law firm moves to a quaint small town. She’s an angry child, who resists having anything to do with her new environment, so of course, before too long, she gets entangled in the center of things. She and her boyfriend unwittingly end up freeing a ghost relevant to the town’s history, and setting things right again may prove very tricky.


How did you come up with the character, “Blue” Shaefer?

Haunting Blue started as an homage to the old Hardy Boys series. Around age 10 I read some of the “old blue hardbacks” which always had an adventurous premise but overall were light reads that rarely delivered on their promise. I wanted to write a similar tale that took a dark twist that raised the stakes.

So I started off with two boy heroes and it just wasn’t clicking. Computer nerd “Chip” was pretty much already developed. In a few early ideas he had an angsty artsy best friend, but they weren’t interesting enough to make me want to work on it. Then I thought about making the best friend a girl and introducing sexual tension. I took the angst personality and threw it forward to full punk, gave her the nickname “Blue” for her spiky hair. By asking the logical questions, the answers built a profile. Why a punk girl? (She grew up in a college suburb.) Why would she be best friends with a nerd? (She’s an outsider and he was the first person to offer a sympathetic ear). Pretty soon “Blue” took over the idea and it became more about her, with Chip taking a supporting role. But for me, it was also far more interesting and something I wanted to spend time to develop.


What do you think it is that makes ghost stories so cool to read about, and to write about?

Beyond the obvious answer that ghost stories explore the age old question of life after death, they also offer an opportunity for closure and conclusion that real life “hauntings” rarely give us. Think of the typical stories we hear of haunted houses or or real encounters. It’s usually an incident, a repeated action, sightings and appearances, but that’s all. Or just check out any episode of any Ghost Hunter reality shows. Does anyone ever really get to the bottom of things? Do the heroes every really exercise the ghost, put it to rest, help it find peace? Yet in the majority of fictionalized ghost stories, that’s exactly what happens.
What’s your favorite type of music?

Interor2_FINAL_WEBPop music of various eras. Currently I dig Pink, Florence & the Machine, Paramore, and I have a love-hate relationship with Katy Perry. I grew up listening to Elvis, Peter Paul & Mary, The Mamas and the Papas on my parents’ reel to reel tape deck. My brother was a KISS fan, along with other metal bands, so that grew on me, plus Led Zepplin, The Beatle, Heart, the more hard rocking 70s. And of course, I have a huge love for the M-TV era 80s music. I’m infamous on Facebook for my Cyndi Lauper fanboy posts, born from a true fannish appreciation of the person and her music. That in and of itself is a blog post, which I have written about in full here.

[link to ]


Has music played any role in your writing process or inspired a scene or story?

An early short story, “Fade,” published in the Indiana Science Fiction Anthology 2011, was directly inspired by an obscure song of the same title by a band called Blue Angel, notable not for any hits but because Ms. Lauper was their lead singer before she went solo. The song is about a girl trying to use telekinesis to make her boyfriend disappear, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to let a prompt like that slip away. I also drew upon my experience going from concert to concert and backstage meetings, which I will do on occasion, to inspire parts of the time travel Rebecca Burton e-book short story “Backstage Pass,” available through Seventh Star Press.

I like to compose to music, and have a handful of favorite drafting discs: Til Tuesday, Everything’s Different Now; Cyndi Lauper, Sisters of Avalon; Journey, Infinity. Also, various Star Trek and Star Wars soundtracks.


Last but not least, who’s the best ghost sleuth? Scooby Doo or the Ghost Whisperer?

Rut Ro, Raggy! You got me, I don’t know this Ghost Whisperer person.


Virtual Tour
Author: RJ Sullivan
Featured Book: Haunting Blue


RJSullivanPhotoAbout RJ Sullivan: Haunting Blue is the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer. This is the 2014 revised edition by Seventh Star Press. Seventh Star also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second book in Fiona’s tale. R.J.’s short stories have been featured in such acclaimed collections as Dark Faith: Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. His newest project is the Red Lotus series of science fiction novelettes.

R.J. resides in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks coffee from a Little Mermaid mug and is man enough to admit it.

HauntingBlue_CoverHaunting Blue Book Synopsis: Punk, blue-haired “Blue” Shaefer, is at odds with her workaholic single mother. Raised as a city girl in a suburb of Indianapolis, Blue must abandon the life she knows when her unfeeling mother moves them to a dreadful small town. Blue befriends the only student willing to talk to her: computer nerd “Chip” Farren.

Chip knows the connection between the rickety pirate boat ride at the local amusement park and the missing money from an infamous bank heist the townspeople still talk about. When Blue helps him recover the treasure, they awaken a vengeful ghost who’ll stop at nothing–not even murder–to prevent them from exposing the truth behind his evil deeds.
Haunting Blue is Book One of the Adventures of Blue Shaefer

Author Links:

Tour Schedule and Activities
7/14     Jess Resides Here       Interview
7/14      Beauty in Ruins             Guest Post
7/14      fuonlyknew ~ Laura’s ramblins and reviews   Top Tens List
7/15       Deal Sharing Aunt         Top Ten’s List
7/15      John F. Allen Writer        Character Post
7/15       Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author            Guest Post
7/16       The Rage Circus Vs. The Soulless Void         Review
7/16       SpecMusicMuse              Interview
7/16       Workaday Reads             Post on Artwork of Haunting Blue
7/16       I Smell Sheep                  Character Post
7/17       Bee’s Knees Review           Review
7/17       Library Girl Reads & Reviews   Guest Post
7/17      Come Selahway With Me                Guest Post
7/18      A Haunted Head               Author Interview
7/19      Nerd With A View                   Top Tens Post
7/19      Coffintree Hill                     Guest Post
7/20      Willow’s Author Love        Review

Tour Page URL:

Tour Badge Html:

Amazon Links for Haunting Blue:
Kindle Version:

Print Version:

July 16, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SpecMusicMuse—Interview w/Walter Rhein

I had the pleasure of interviewing Walter Rhein, author of The Reader of Acheron. Enjoy! 🙂


Tell us a little about yourself.

Currently I’m working with Janet Morris at Perseid Press (  It’s been fascinating working with her since she’s the author of some of the most important works of Heroic Fantasy published in the last 50 years.  I’ve also got a book coming out with Harren Press (, which is an up and coming press I’ve enjoyed working with.  I got my first publishing contract from Rhemalda, which has now ceased operations.  Prior to that I lived and worked in Lima, Peru.  For a while I was the editor of, which was a fun gig because I got to go and do promotions for all the gourmet restaurants in Lima.  These days, the best place to find me is at (please subscribe to the email feed), or at the Heroic Fantasy group on Facebook (  A lot of my writer friends, including Janet Morris, are generally looking for insightful reviewers, so if you join and introduce yourself, you might get some offers for free books.

How did you come up with the world of Erafor?

Lima is a bit of an inspiration honestly, but so is the US.  I wanted to create a world that is in a rapid state of deterioration due to a kind of overwhelming malaise that I think readers will recognize.  I was also inspired by some recent classes I took to become certified as a high school teacher.  I found it mind boggling that most of the tactics that are used for teaching in the US are obviously out of date and intended more for instilling obedience than a love of knowledge or learning.  My two main protagonists, Quillion and Kikkan, are very much aware that there is more to the world than they are being told—and they’re very irritated that they have been misled.

Reading and writing being forbidden is a major plot point for Readers of Acheron, and it’s central theme.  How vital is such a theme to modern day society?

The only advantage to oppressing reading and writing, or any kind of knowledge whatsoever, is to enable enslavement.  That’s it.  I wish people would consider that when various groups toss around ideas as to what concepts should or shouldn’t be taught in public schools. What’s even more funny is when people claim they want to keep you ignorant because “it’s in your best interests.”  I’ve had a lot of experience with people who always screamed and yelled about how many favors they did to for me and how grateful I should be.  Here’s a tip for life: people who are really doing you favors, don’t bash you in the face with it every two seconds.

Has music ever inspired a scene or story for you, and do you write with music in the background?

I don’t actually.  I have never listened to music a whole lot.  I’ll listen to the first chorus or so, then I start drifting off into dreamland and hours pass buy.  I once did a two hour drive and only noticed at the very end that my tape (I’m old) was jammed and I was blasting crackling tape hiss at myself.  If I want to pay attention to what’s coming out of the speakers, I put in a foreign language tape.

Anything coming out in the near future?

I have a humorous travel memoir that’s been primed to launch for about a year.  That could be coming out in two months, or it might be another year.  We’ll see.  I should be finishing up the second volume of “Slaves of Erafor” before the end of the year.  I assume we’ll see a January 2015 release on that.  It’s going along well, but you never know, the bottom might fall out.  Also Harren is re-releasing my first novel with Rhemalda, “The Bone Sword” soon.  The original publication date for that was May 15, 2014, so you see how that’s going.  But I expect it to come out within a month or so.


Where on the Internet can you be found? is good.  As I mentioned before, sign up for the email feed and I’ll send out notices when I’m looking for reviewers.  I do a lot of free books since I always like to launch a book with 30-50 reviews on Amazon.  You can also find me at Facebook here (, or just send me a good old fashioned email:


Thanks for having me!

June 3, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Editor Interview w/ Yours Truly @ Library of Erana

Editor Interview Number Eight – Scott Sandridge.

I went to the Library of Erana to pass on my editor knowledge, in my own zany manner. 😉


May 31, 2014 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse Double-Whammy—Review of Olde School + Interview w/Selah Janel

Today I have the honor of starting off the Olde School Virtual Tour by giving you a review of Olde School and an interview with the author, Selah Janel. Enjoy! 🙂


OldeSchoolCoverFinal_650X433SpecMusicMuse Review—Olde School by Selah Janel

Fairy tales meet modernization in Olde School by Selah Janel. One of the most interesting aspects to this book, is that the main protagonists are trolls. One specific troll, Paddlelump, is a bit of a pushover, which isn’t a very trolly thing to be.

Janel does a great job blending old and new into her world while also paying homage to the fairy tales that the history of Kingdom City is based on. She also does a great job in blending campy humor with serious character development and even delves into the horrific in a few scenes. The plot contains many twists, but are weaved seamlessly into each other in a way the reader never has to worry about getting lost.

I enjoyed reading Olde School so much that I nearly forgot that I was reviewing it. The story pulled me in and refused to let me leave.

Oh, and a troll’s gonna troll. 😉

Best to read while listeing to: The soundtrack to Schreck mixed with some classic R&B, and a tad bit of theme music from the Mirkwood scenes in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.


Interview with Selah JanelSelahJanel-smaller


Tell the readers a little bit about you.

First off, thanks for having me on, Scott! I’m so happy to be here!

I consider myself a fairly typical, albeit quirky, Middle American gal with a huge imagination. I’ve worked in a lot of different fields in the theatre and entertainment industry: I’ve been on stage here and there, studied voice for about ten years, been a puppeteer, done theatre admin work, and I’ve been involved in costumes in various forms for about 14 years now.

As a writer, I have an ongoing love affair with ideas, and I consider myself a very curious personality – I love learning, and I love talking to people and finding out what their experiences are and how they relate to or differ than mine. I’m also a big defender of speculative fiction and curious about how gender roles are portrayed and perceived within them.

I love crafting and dabbling in art forms that may not be my forte, that I can just do for fun. I’m an unrepentant geek – I love graphic novels, books of all types, fairy and folk tales…and I am a HUGE music fan. I studied classical voice and musical theatre, but I LOVE classic rock, glam rock, hard rock, and I probably know way too much about it for my own good. I don’t get into everything, but what I do like I tend to be a big walking, geeky Wikipedia for.

How did you come up with the idea for Olde School?

I may or may not have been frustrated at someone I was around at the time. I tend to be very proactive and forward momentum, and the other parties were most definitely the opposite. It originally started as a short story to vent my frustration and experiment with a few concepts, like technology in a fantasy world. The scenes that were there from the beginning were the first Trip Trap sequence, and the first few Nobody scenes.

For some reason, it never occurred to me to paint myself as a put-upon princess or heroine. From the get-go I was just “ugh, this makes me feel like a troll…” and I began to wonder about what would happen if a Cinderella or other put-upon heroine was actually a conniving wreck. I’ve learned I have a very different concept of what a princess is than most people. When I hear the word I don’t think a tragic heroine or an entitled person – I think of a girl who may have power, who may have hard circumstances for some reason, but also has a lot of personal potential and can go out and have adventures. I got intrigued with playing with how people perceive fairy tale heroines, and Nobody spiraled out of control from there.

I couldn’t find a good ending for the story, so I put it away for years until I began submitting a lot of short fiction in earnest. It spiraled into a novella, then a novel, but I still couldn’t find an ending that felt right. When Seventh Star approached me for a series idea, I realized that the reason I couldn’t end it was because it was bigger than a book.

The other thing that was there from the beginning was the modern tech and pop culture in a fantasy setting. It kind of surprised me that I hadn’t read much done with that idea, so I just decided to go for it, to see what would happen if this fairy tale society modernized and treated the “old stories” the same way we did: either as legends based in history or based in fiction. Originally I wasn’t planning on making magic as big of an element as it was, but when I started remembering elements of international Cinderella-type stories that I loved, I suddenly realized how much fairy tale magic is like Lovecraftian horror. I mean, think of it! In a real-world setting, if an animal starts talking to you and wants you to kill it so its skeleton can help you, or if a tree starts giving you advice…that’s not normal in any setting, I don’t care what kind of fantasy world you live in – that is some pretty mind-bending stuff. The concept of the Olde Ones developed almost immediately from that thought process.


What gave you the idea for the character, Paddlelump? And how’d you come up with that name?

Hand_9X7_Illustration1Let me warn you, Paddlelump is one of two characters in the book that had a long evolution, so you may want to strap yourself in for this answer.

Names are a funny thing with me. I tend to either really fret about them, or I just assign one. A lot of the names in Olde School came so naturally, they just sort of appeared and I never really felt the need to change them. Paddlelump, though, is a subtle tribute to one of my favorite series. I wanted his name to flow more as opposed to Ippick and Uljah, who are more snarky and crass. I really love The Chronicles of Narnia – I grew up with the British versions on TV and I read the series as a teen. The Silver Chair blew my mind. I hadn’t realized how dark the series got until that book, and I loved the elements of travel and little mini-adventures that fed into the main goal. They’re staples of fantasy, but I hadn’t really noticed them as themes until reading that book. I love the character of Puddleglum the marshwiggle, and that name has always stuck with me. Padd had a few variations of his name, but all were in tribute to Puddleglum in some form.

Paddlelump as a character came from several places. I loved the idea of writing a fantasy where the main character wasn’t human, but still well-developed. I’d seen hints of supporting characters of that nature in things like Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tale series, but I really wanted to see how far I could go with it. I like trolls, and I thought it would be interesting to have a likeable one, one who really hadn’t gotten the hang of being a troll. However, it’s important to me that he’s more than a gimmick. He has to carry the book and the series, so there has to be more to him than being “nice.”

Paddlelump was probably how I felt about life around the time I started writing this in 2006. We both look younger than we are, people sometimes think we’re both a target and suckers, and I was in a position in life where it felt like everything was happening at once. Just every little thing felt like a personal offense, I couldn’t get on top of it, and it was overwhelming. Actually, when I pulled the story out for the second time in 2011, I had just gotten out of a similar place, but had grown to be able to deal with things better.

As the story turned into the book, though, I realized that I’d matured in ways that Paddlelump hadn’t. I’m a little more realistic and cautious at times because I’ve been burned, and he’s still willing to give people fourth and fifth chances, even if he knows better. We both don’t like conflict, but he runs from it more than I do. He’s wishy washy where I’ve become proactive, and he tends to embrace his innocence a little too much at times, using a lot of his personality as an excuse. This made for an interesting first half of the book, but by the last fourth it became a problem. It was hard to see him as something more than a likeable guy that I wanted to either hug or punch in the face because he didn’t move forward or stand up for himself. I didn’t want him to be so static. It became hard to resolve how he could defeat some of the larger-than-life challenges in the book, and I very much wanted him to be the one coming out ahead so he could grow and continue to evolve into a heroic character in later books.

I was attempting to redo the last fourth of the book to fix those issues when either someone sent me a link or I stumbled upon a link of Tom Hiddleston talking about Shakespeare at Comic Con. At this point I hadn’t seen any of the Marvel movies and I only knew of him as some guy who was supposed to be great as Loki. I tend to dig my heels in when everyone around me recommends something that becomes really popular really fast (especially when I ask how the story is and they all start gushing about the dudes in it. I mean, it’s a modern world and I’m not against a little well-meaning male objectification, but I’d actually like to know what a film is about).

His discussion in the link was about Cymbeline, which I’d used speeches from when I’d auditioned for schools ages ago. I was actually working on Olde School’s edits while listening to this – I’d taken to listening to interviews and British comedies instead of music to try to get a dialect and speech rhythm for the world down – and something made me pause. Not enough to really have an aha moment or something, but I realized he was way more insightful than I’d assumed. On a whim, I started looking up interviews, because I realized his voice had this really pleasant, yet interesting quality. It’s pleasing without being too neutral, and there’s a good hint of strength and flexibility to it. I really needed all the help I could get with Padd at that point, and it clicked that as a voice, I could picture my troll lead sounding like that. (And this is the point where all of his fans put my face up on a target…)

Long story short, I discovered that Tom Hiddleston is an incredibly articulate actor and insightful, multi-faceted person. I’m drawn to actors and artists like that, and I realized that I was doing to him what a lot of people in my book do to Paddlelump: I was selling him totally short because everyone around me gushed about how he was such a “cute, nice guy” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I feel like there has to be better description for good people than nice. A lot of things are nice. Kitties are nice. Sandwiches are nice. Artistically styled doorknobs are nice. I would not lump a person into the same category as a doorknob or sandwich).

I realized that Paddlelump might present this good-guy image, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not intellect there, or compassion, or an inner strength that can be developed. It wasn’t about taking him from zero to hero in one book – it was about showing that he has the potential to be a hero, just as we all do. Although I will never, ever live this down from any of my friends ever, in a convolute way Tom Hiddleston really helped the character of Paddlelump click for me, from his inner potential down to the voice. While I’m not one for avatars, I will say this is where my theatre training saved me – by having learned how to recognize what traits Padd was lacking and by recognizing them through another person’s performance, it made his character so much better.

I noticed a few “Easter eggs” in the story. Bull_6X9_Illustration2

I’m glad you did! I really love to include as many little details as possible, and it made sense to throw in a lot of little fairy tale tidbits. As a reader, I love it when authors do that. I feel like I’m in some little club when I catch details like that. I don’t often do it in my short fiction, but in my longer work, I love throwing in Easter eggs. I want people to be able to read a book more than once and catch something new each time.

There are a ton of Cinderella-type story references in this book: the trolls, to some of the characters, to the forest, to the walnuts, and I could go on and on. That being said, there are a lot of other little asides. Things like The Magic Porridge Pot fast food place, a lot of the swears the characters mutter, references to different horror movie franchises – I figured that if I was going to base a world on a fairy/folktale society, I might as well go all the way.

It was also important to me to add in the appendix at the end so that people knew it wasn’t all me – these stories are way bigger than I am – and that they would know where to look for some of this stuff if they were curious and heard of them before. While I can’t reference all the little asides, I was careful to disclaim the biggest ones.

For people who specifically know me, too, there are even deeper Easter eggs – references to Labyrinth (one of my favorite fantasy movies) are there, there’s a very garbled allusion to Hamlet, there’s a reference to an episode of one of my favorite TV shows growing up. I definitely embrace what I love, and while I strive to be original, I like paying homage to the things that have made me who I am. I’ve had readers, family, and friends contact me, asking if certain things were on purpose, or if they’d caught everything yet. I definitely challenge people to read the book and see how many hidden tidbits they can find!

Has music ever been a part of your daily writing routine, or inspired a story or scene?

Oh, definitely. This was one of the few books where I had trouble coming up with music that blended well with the story (I edited it to big band, Swing, and American standards), but I love writing to music. I have eclectic tastes, but when writing I usually do a lot of instrumentals, both classical and more modern. I love David Garrett a lot, I like David Bowie’s instrumental work, that sort of thing. In terms of character building, I love stuff like Sixx: A.M. and G Tom Mac. With books like In the Red, which is currently out of print, it was so much about rock n’ roll that I constantly wrote to bands like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and Motley Crue. On the other hand, I’ve been working on plotting out a gritty post-apocalyptic story, and the thing that helps me write it best is boy band music. I’m probably the only person who listens to Backstreet Boys and NKOTB while thinking about killing zombies, but there you go. I’ve gotten back into listening to the radio more, and I like those stations that play random stuff, so it keeps things fun and interesting. I never know when some random tune will give me an idea.


So where on the Internet can Selah Janel be found?

I haunt a few places these days. You can usually find me at…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Books by Selah Janel | Reviews of Selah’s Books |


Any future projects in the works?

I just re-released Mooner, a historical vampire story, through Mocha Memoir press on e-book, and I’m teaming up with Fortress Publishing later this year to do an issue based around my fiction. I’ve got a few things reserved for future anthologies, too. In terms of other stuff, I’m polishing In the Red, the rock n’ roll urban fantasy/fairy tale novel to shop that again, and I want to finish up a short novel that’s a mash up of the horror and chick lit genres. Beyond that, I’ve got a few half-written manuscripts that I want to develop into some short novels or novellas, and they all deal with folklore elements, but use them to explore some really deep emotional issues that people go through.

And, of course, there’s always Kingdom City! The plan is to do a collection of shorts that explain the tales of the lost dreamers in this first book a little better, and then get crackin’ on book two!


Author: Selah Janel

Featured Book Release

Olde School

Book One Kingdom City Chronicles

May 26 to June 1, 2014



About the Author: Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination and a love of story since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Learning to read and being encouraged by those around her only made things worse. Her work ranges from e-books to traditional print, and she prefers to write every genre at once rather than choose just one. The stories “Holly and Ivy”, “The Other Man”, and “Mooner” are available online through Mocha Memoirs Press. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil, Thunder on the Battlefield: Sorcery, The Grotesquerie, and the short story collection Lost in the Shadows, co-written with S.H. Roddey. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to have adventures and hold their own.


Catch up with her thoughts and projects at



Book Synopsis Olde School: Kingdom City has moved into the modern era. Run by a lord mayor and city council (though still under the influence of the High King of The Land), it proudly embraces a blend of progress and tradition. Trolls, ogres, and other Folk walk the streets with humans, but are more likely to be entrepreneurs than cause trouble. Princesses still want to be rescued, but they now frequent online dating services to encourage lords, royals, and politicians to win their favor. The old stories are around, but everyone knows they’re just fodder for the next movie franchise. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as magic. It’s all old superstition and harmless tradition.


Bookish, timid, and more likely to carry a laptop than a weapon, Paddlelump Stonemonger is quickly coming to wish he’d never put a toll bridge over Crescent Ravine. While his success has brought him lots of gold, it’s also brought him unwanted attention from the Lord Mayor. Adding to his frustration, Padd’s oldest friends give him a hard time when his new maid seems inept at best and conniving at worst. When a shepherd warns Paddlelump of strange noises coming from Thadd Forest, he doesn’t think much of it. Unfortunately for him, the history of his land goes back further than anyone can imagine. Before long he’ll realize that he should have paid attention to the old tales and carried a club.


Darkness threatens to overwhelm not only Paddlelump, but the entire realm. With a little luck, a strange bird, a feisty waitress, and some sturdy friends, maybe, just maybe, Padd will survive to eat another meal at Trip Trap’s diner. It’s enough to make the troll want to crawl under his bridge, if he can manage to keep it out of the clutches of greedy politicians


Olde School if Book One of The Kingdom City Chronicles



Author Links:










Tour Schedule and Activities

May 26        SpecMusicMuse                                      Review/Interview
May 26        Vampires, Witches, and me oh my!      Guest Post
May 27        Alexx Momcat’s Gateway Book Blog      Character Post
May 27        Watch Play Read                                    Review
May 28        Fantastical Adventures in the Paper Realm     Review
May 28        Sheila Deeth Blog                                     Character Post
May 28        Close Encounters with the Night Kind      Review
May 29        Deal Sharing Aunt                                     Promo/Spotlight
May 29       Workaday Reads                                       Reviews
May 30       Exquisite Corpse                                       Guest Post
May 31      Bee’s Knees Reviews                                Review
May 31      I Smell Sheep                                             Character Post
June 1       Seers, Seraphs, Immortals and More!        Interview


Tour Page URL:

Tour Badge Html:


Amazon Links for Olde School

Print Version

Kindle Version

May 26, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

SpecMusicMuse—A Chimerical World Round Table Interview Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the A Chimerical World Round Table Interview. Sitting with me today are Doug Blakeslee, Michael M. Jones, Nick Bryan, Saera Corvin, and S. D. Grimm.


My name is Doug Blakeslee and I’ve sold almost a dozen short stories in the past two years. My current project is an urban fantasy novella that I’m in the process of revising while kicking out short stories.

I’m Michael M. Jones. Not only am I a writer, I’m also a book reviewer and the editor of Scheherazade’s Façade and the forthcoming Schoolbooks & Sorcery. My stories have appeared in a number of places, including Clockwork Phoenix 4 and Jack-o-‘Spec. You can learn more at

Hi, I’m Nick Bryan, London-based darkly comic genre writer, author of the weekly (and very British) crime comedy-drama webserial Hobson & Choi. Think Sherlock, but scrappier and more embedded in our reality. Details on

I write under the pen name S. D. Grimm. My first novelette Breathless was published last year. Since then I’ve had flash fiction pieces published in Splickety Magazine and a short story published in the anthology Pure Science Fiction and Fantasy. But I’m really excited because I recently signed a contract for my YA fantasy novel! You can check out more about that and my writing in general by visiting


Tell us a little about your story

Doug: This one [“Tamer of Beasts”] sprang to life when a friend of mine made an off-hand comment about Beauty and the Beast. He wanted to know about the flower’s POV. That dovetailed into a “what if the flower captured both of them” scenario. The Flowering Princess of Dreams is a collector of pretty things and quite harsh on her “guests” if they disappoint her. Tamer is one of her favorites and is put in charge of her latest acquisition, Beast.

Michael: “Keys” started life as a trickster piece, in which I took the idea of Saint Peter as the trickster to Jesus’ straight man (as seen in some South American storytelling traditions) and reinvented him as a Jerry Springer-esque figure, a talk show host who gets up to all sorts of wacky hijinks. Then I threw in the teens who encounter him after his latest escapade goes awry, an enigmatic musician, and a host of very furious fancies. Honestly, while it sounds complicated at first, there are layers to this story. The Fae play an unusual role, and it all ties together in unexpected ways.

Nick: My story “The Fool And His Money” stems from an idea I had a while back. I saw loads of news stories about the financial crash, explaining it in terms of bankers spending money that didn’t really exist.

And then, being a fantasy writer, I started thinking about where this imaginary cash really came from, how it would work and what the consequences might be. Faeries were the logical answer.

Saera Corvin: This story [“Gnome Games”] is something like a tribute to all those socks and underwear that get sucked into the black hole between the washing machine and the laundry basket.

S. D.: “Mark of Ruins” is about a teenage girl who lives with a secret: she has huge, pointed ears. It makes fitting in extra hard. But she’s headed to a new school and determined to hide her secret and just be normal—for once. Until she meets a secretive guy who might know more about her than he’s letting on. In order to get answers from him, she might just have to reveal the truth about herself, and hope it won’t scare him off.


What’s your favorite type of faerie?

S. D.: Naiads and water sprites.

Nick: Fairy cake. Or, in stories, the evil manipulative ones, as they’re just the most fun.

Saera: Norwegian Trolls. I always loved how the stories would talk about the little ones causing the most damage when they’d come down from the mountains and invade some poor farmer’s house.

Doug: Those that look fair of face but will mess up your day for a giggle or on a whim. It’s the troupe of pretty things aren’t dangerous. Many of the faeries that I write about fall into the Unseelie Court side of the equation.

Michael: I’ve always been particular to the pooka, however you want to spell it. Shapechanging tricksters? Sign me up. Little-known fact: the spelling “phouka” is apparently considered offensive by the Virginia DMV. That nixed my plan to get it as a license plate years ago. If you’ve ever read Emma Bull’s excellent War for the Oaks, you’ll understand why the pooka (phouka) is such a compelling concept.


Is music a part of your personal writing process, and if so what kind(s) of music do you listen to when you write?

Saera: Sometimes it is. The kinds of music I like to have on varies depending on what hits my mood at the time. Mostly, I like hard rock, blues, and the golden oldies.

Doug: I use Pandora and tune into seeds that contain the likes of Lindsey Sterling, Kodo, the Yoshida Brothers, and other instrumental only artists. These are good for setting the mood and not distracting me from writing.

Michael: Oh, music is essential for me to get into the groove. I make playlists all the time. My tastes are eclectic: pop, rock, showtunes, classical—all that matters is that it has the right sort of energy and beat to engage my subconscious and drown out the outside world. Oddly enough, iTunes says that the track I’ve listened to the most is “Breakout” by OPM from the New Guy soundtrack, followed by “Welcome Home” by Coheed and Cambria. Judge as you will.

Nick: I listen to music constantly – often ambient stuff like the excellent Spektrmodule podcast from Warren Ellis – – or the Gorillaz album The Fall – surprisingly good atmosphere music. I also listen to folk and indie rock, but only albums I really know back to front or it distracts me.

S. D.: It depends on the mood of what I’m writing. For “Mark of Ruins” I listened to Dark Side by Kelly Clarkson and Broken by Lifehouse—pretty much on repeat.


Has a song ever inspired a story idea for you?

Saera: “Ramble on Rose” by the Dead

Doug: “This is War” by 30 Seconds to Mars. I used it for a superhero themed story about a young hero fighting against a tyrant. Never sold it, but I think it has some promise.

Michael: Many times, but most of those stories remain on the back burner. I’m still waiting for the perfect opportunity to unleash tales inspired by “Jessie’s Girl” and “Safety Dance,” the latter of which sounds like a very Fae tune. Oh, you can definitely dance if you want to…

Nick: Not sure a song has ever inspired a whole story, but I do have a habit of naming my work after them. Then changing my mind later because the content has nothing to do with the song.

S. D.: Yes! I know it’s a little country, but Why You Wanna by Jana Kramer sparked inspiration for a story about a young girl whose boyfriend comes back from a tour of duty as a changed man—genetically changed (in a super-soldier-gone-bad kind of way).


Last but not least: who’d win a fight between Princess Toadstool and Zelda?

Doug: Zelda. She’d totally kick her mushroom highness’ butt.

Nick: I haven’t played a Zelda game since Ocarina of Time, but doesn’t Zelda turn into a ninja? Although it probably doesn’t matter if she’s still a ninja or not, I’m not sure Toadstool could take anyone in a fight. Not even Toad the tiny mushroom.

Michael: I’d rather see them team up and fight evil together. They’ve spent long enough being damsels in distress!

Saera: Neither: Toadstool and Zelda always call Mario and Link in to do their dirty work.

S. D: I’ve never played video games *gasp* so I’m going to have to go with a wild-card princess: She-Ra.


57d7e-final_talesoftheseeliecourt_650Where to find the books:

Amazon Links for Tales of the Seelie Court  
Print Version
Kindle Version  

Amazon Links for Tales of the Unseelie Court  
Print Version
Kindle Version

May 25, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SpecMusicMuse—A Chimerical World Round Table Interview, Part 1

Today we have part 1 of a special Round Table style interview with the authors of both A Chimerical World anthologies.  Sitting with me tonight are Angeline Trevena, Chantal Boudreau, David Turnbull, and Nicholas Paschall.


Angeline Trevena was born and bred in a rural corner of South West England where she still lives above a milkshake shop. She is a fantasy and horror writer, poet and journalist. Some years ago she worked at an antique auction house and religiously checked every wardrobe that came in to see if Narnia was in the back of it. She’s still not given up looking for it.

Find out more at

Chantal Boudreau – I’m an accountant/author/illustrator who lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with my husband, Dale and two children, Gwyneth and Etienne. An affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association, I write and illustrate horror, dark fantasy and fantasy and I have had several of my stories published in a variety of horror anthologies and magazines.  Fervor, my debut dystopian novel, was released in March of 2011 by May December Publications, followed by Elevation, Transcendence and Providence.  Magic University, the first in my fantasy series, Masters & Renegades, made its appearance in September 2011 followed by Casualties of War and Prisoners of Fate.  Learn more at my website:

I’m David Turnbull, a UK based writer. I’m a member of the Clockhouse London Group of genre writers who collectively have loads of published sci fi, fantasy and horror credits to their name as well as a few collaborative pieces. Recent anthologies featuring my own short fiction include ‘Breaking the Rules’ (Boo Books), Vignettes from the End of the World (Apokrupha) and Black Apples (Belladonna Publications). My short story ‘Aspects of Aries’ which appeared in ‘Astrologica’ (The Alchemy Press) has been selected to appear in Salt Publications’ Best British Fantasy anthology due for release later this year. You can find me at

Nicholas Paschall, horror and fantasy author. I’m a recurring columnist for Dark Eclipse Magazine and have been published in eight anthologies. I also maintain my own blog where I post stories freshly written, called the Nickronomicon. I have an upcoming story in Demonic Visions Four coming out early June that I would suggest anyone who is into the Unseelie get, as it involves them to a great degree.


Tell us a little about your story

Angeline: My story, ‘I’ll Watch Over You’, is a classic changeling story. It follows new mother, Ellen, in a downward spiral of superstition and paranoia, as she fights against a fae intent on stealing her baby. While Ellen’s husband believes her hormones are simply going haywire, her elderly neighbour fills her head with stories and her home with talismans. Becoming increasingly frightened and isolated, Ellen finds herself standing between her baby and the unknown world of the fae.

Chantal: I was researching Japanese mythology for a novel idea I had in mind and the research inspired my story.  I also had my thoughts focused on my friend Barb who was dying from pancreatic cancer and I think feelings of sadness and a sense of devotion to friends and family naturally transposed themselves into the story as a result.  Barb was the type of person always sacrificing for others and I think I brought some of her spirit to Sanae.

David: My story is a kind of ‘be careful what you wish for’ allegory. The farmer lusts after the thing that the boy has access to and is willing to commit murder to obtain it. He doesn’t realize the terrible mistake he has made till he gets what he desires.

The post revolutionary backdrop of the story has been one that I have used in several stories now, placing well-known fairy tale or nursery rhyme characters into a situation where society has undergone profound changes. In this case the source material was the nursery rhyme Little Boy Blue come blow your Horn. I wondered what else the boy might be calling with his horn other than sheep or cows.

The title The Wunderhorn comes from a 19th Century collection of German Folk songs Das Knaben Wunderhorn (The Boy’s Magical Horn) which was said to have been part of the inspiration behind the Grimm brother’s collection of fairy tales.

Nicholas: It’s a story about loss, and the beauty that can be found in all things, even misery. A fey of unknown species gathers the souls of singers and instrumentalists so that they can forever play for his eternal amusement. He hosts balls for his kind where his favorite specter sings a song of his native homeland. It is really a tale about how even in the most miserable circumstances, beauty can come forth. And, of course, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


What’s your favorite type of faerie?

Angeline: I grew up surrounding myself with the friendly fairies of childhood: flower fairies, tooth fairies, friendly little creatures that grant wishes and sprinkle fairy dust. But through my teens, I discovered there was a different side to the fae. Overall, I like to think fairies are more mischievous than downright evil.

Nicholas: Personifications of nature that have been corrupted are perhaps my favorite, like a dryad who has had her tree poisoned by human waste. The idea of flawed beauty in a creature that the idea of flaws doesn’t even exist has always brought a smile to my face.

David: The Brownie. I like the idea of a creature that makes its home under your doorstep and helps with household chores while your asleep but could cause all sorts of chaos and mayhem if you get on the wrong side of it. Anyone who likes gothic horror should read ‘The Brownie of the Black Haggs’ by James Hogg.

Chantal: I’m a seelie fan.  I especially like helpful fairies with an air of mischief and a sense of humour.


Is music a part of your personal writing process, and if so what kind(s) of music do you listen to when your write?

Angeline: I often play music while I write, and find that it has a significant impact on my writing. I often choose specific albums based on the story I am hoping to write. One of my go-to bands is Counting Crows, and they have been the soundtrack to a lot of my writing sessions over the years.

I also use film soundtracks because they’re so full of atmosphere and emotion. My favourites are The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Edward Scissorhands.

Chantal: Very much so – I try to match the music to the mood of the story: alternative rock, easy listening, pop, celtic, tribal…whatever suits the story.

David: There’s nothing like a good murder ballad to set the mood for a piece of dark writing. Particular favorites include the Everly Brothers’ rendition of ‘Down in the Willow Garden’ and the Nick Cave / PJ Harvey duet ‘Henry Lee’. Also, in keeping with my Scottish heritage, Euan MacColl’s ‘The Bonnie Banks of Airdie’ where the Duke of Fifes’ three daughters are dispatched one by one by a robber brandishing a wee penknife.

Nicholas: I listen to a variety of songs when I write, from dubstep versions of horror songs to country music, to J-pop. The music really influences the writing. Sometimes I’ll just listen to rain fall and write from what bubbles forth from my subconscious.


Has a song ever inspired a story idea for you?

Nicholas: Of course! I think every author got the starting point of their story from either a song or seeing something. For me, Maestro came from listening to Jace Everrett’s “I wanna do Bad Things to you,” a song that is by far one of my favorites in the new age variety we’ve been seeing as of late.

Chantal: I wouldn’t say any song has inspired a particular story, but it has inspired some of my content while writing.  Songs have also inspired some of my story and novel titles.

David: I have a story in the forthcoming ‘Girl at the End of the World’ anthology (Fox Spirit) which features a girl with corkscrew hair, inspired by the line in the T Rex 70’s hit Telegram Sam – I ‘ain’t no where with my corkscrew hair. I’ve also managed to get a Metal Guru into the plot as well.


Last but not least: who’d win a fight between Princess Toadstool and Zelda?

Chantal: My vote’s for Zelda.

Angeline: I can’t imagine these two ladies fighting one another. They’d far more likely just to go out for coffee and cake together. And why not?

David: I’m declaring Swiss style neutrality on this one.

Nicolas: That’s a tough one. Both get captured far too often to show any real fighting skills, though in recent years they’ve been added to brawler games to showcase their fighting skills, or lack thereof. I think I’d have to give it to Zelda, as she comes from a kingdom of warriors that are human, not anthropomorphic mushrooms. Hard to practice against a race of two foot tall fungus men and learn how to fight effectively.

With Zelda she would, as a princess, at least have the chance to learn archery. And with her constant kidnappings, she can probably defend herself better than the only human in all of Mushroom Kingdom.


Where to find the books:

Amazon Links for Tales of the Seelie Court  32892-final_talesoftheunseeliecourt_650
Print Version
Kindle Version  

Amazon Links for Tales of the Unseelie Court  
Print Version
Kindle Version

May 24, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writerly Update 4/20/14

Been a while since I’ve done a simple basic update.

Almost finished with a new short story, one involving Arnelda and Roland…and an alcoholic hillbilly troll. (don’t ask).

Marcon will be on May 9-11 here at Columbus, OH. I’ll be there for a few panels, even moderating one. And this is my official schedule:

FRI4:00PMUnion CLiterary-WritersI`m Making This Up as I Go Along
FRI8:30PMUnion CLiterary-Writers*m* Character Torture 2.0
FRI10:00PMUnion CJust For FunSci-Fi vs. Fantasy Character Battles 
SAT8:30PMUnion CLiterary-WritersWhere Should You Publish Your Work?
SAT10:00PMUnion CLiterary-WritersPublishing Mishaps
SAT11:30PMUnion CLate NightSex vs. Violence
SUN10:00AMRegency BallroomAutographsSunday 10:00 am Autographs

I recently got interviewed over at Heroic Fantasy .com. Here be linky link, arr!:

Also, coming up for SpecMusicMuse: I’m currently reviewing two books written by Janet Morris (who wrote for the Thieves World series). WOOT! And a couple other possible reviews and interviews in the works as well.

Also, a blog tour for the A Chimerical World anthologies is coming up in may. If you like to take part in it, go sign up here:

That’s all for now! 🙂

April 20, 2014 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Pleasant Saturday Surprises

Had some pleasant surprises this weekend so far: two for me and one for you.

First off, I discovered that the Sci Phi Show is back! WOOT!

Secondly, the Raflecopter giveaway contest is going better than I had expected (and “better than expected” is always pleasant).

And last but not least, I got to be part of a Round Table interview over at Bad Girls, Good guys, and Two-Fisted Action, titled The Opening Salvo – Grabbing Readers from the First Sentence.

Enjoy! 🙂

March 22, 2014 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , | Leave a comment

3/19 Bitten By Books Author Interview and Amazon Gift Card Contest

Author Scott Sandridge Interview and Amazon Gift Card Contest 3/19 – RSVP at this link!

Be there! Or I’ll have Arnelda Verina sing off key until your ears explode.

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment