Summer adventure, part 3

Here’s the final set of photos from our recent Chicago visit.

 The Field Museum

 The alley where John Dillinger died

 Of course deep dish pizza was consumed.

 “That’s where they got that Picasso.”

 103 stories up. The kid was too chicken to go out on the glass with me.

We also got to hang out with friends, watch a decent thunderstorm (they’re rare here in California), and wander through Millennium Park. It was a great week. Now I’m back to the grindstone!

Interview with Kenneth Obi

I’m excited today to share an interview with Kenneth Obi. He did a fantastic job narrating my book A Full Plate, and he has nearly two dozen other audiobooks on his roster as well. Thanks so much for joining me today, Kenneth!


Could you tell us a little about yourself? Well, I’m 52 (almost 53), a father of 3 kids, all moved out and forging their own ways. I have two female Newfoundlands that have been in the show ring and are currently training in water rescue work.

How did you start doing book narration? I’ve been in radio and theater. I have a good friend who owns a production company (Falcon Sound Company) that asked me if I was interested in giving it a try. I thought it sounded like a good idea and eventually started my own production company (Under the Stairs, LLC). And while I now have managed to build a hefty workload from some talented authors, I still do voice work for the great crew at FSC.

I’d love to learn a little more about your process for narrating. Do you begin by reading the entire book to yourself before you start narrating? How long does an average novel take you? I would say I skim. I need to get an idea of the characters and story. Once that is done, I come up with voices for the mains and create a small audio file I can refer to before each session to keep the voices clear. I’m not Mel Blanc, but I do try to give each character their own sound. As for how long, Studio time is usually about 7-10 days per project. Some a little longer or shorter, but that is close to average.

How do you choose what kind of voice a particular character will have? Once I get an idea what they are like as characters, I toy around with dialogue sections until I find one that makes me feel like I can convey their personality to the listener.

What are some of the biggest challenges to doing narration work? Women’s voices. I’m a pretty big guy, and while I don’t have a voice like Bowzer from Sha-Na-Na, it is a solid baritone. And I hate making women sound mousey, so that is always a challenge.

What do you like to read for fun? Do you listen to audiobooks for fun too? I am a huge zombie fan, so I read and listen to a lot of that, but I also have some podcasts I am part of, so I can often be found listening to everything history to breakdowns on the “Mind of BTK”.

Do you have a dream project? As an avid (early era) Stephen King fan…doing something of his would be the Holy Grail.

If money were no object, what vacation would you take right now? A week at Atlantis with my wife.

What do you have in the works next? I am wrapping projects for Kyleen Neuhold, Nora Phoenix, and Shaw Montgomery as well as prepping another Dreamspinner title for FSC and the second book in a six-book series for them as well.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us? Leave those reviews, even if they are critical. Sure, I like to see the good ones just like anybody else, but good critique can give good direction and help with becoming a better performer. Just don’t take the glowing ones too seriously to where you think you are beyond reproach or the bad ones to make you feel like you are failing.

Blyd and Pearce blog tour

I’m excited to announce the Blyd and Pearce blog tour, which begins today! Each stop includes original content, most of it related to noir films and fiction. There are also excerpts and a giveaway. So please join me!

July 17 MM Good Book Reviews

July 24 Boy Meets Boy Reviews

July 25 Love Bytes

July 26 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

July 27 My Fiction Nook

July 30 Open Skye Book Reviews

July 31 Long and Short Reviews

August 1 Dreamspinner Press

Summer adventure, part 2

My younger kid and I took the train 2000 miles east, then spent a few days hanging out in Chicago. Here are some pics of the city.

 . This is from a river cruise.

 Obligatory photos at the Bean.

 At the American Writers Museum, which we loved.

 At the Art Institute: American Teenage Gothic

Have you been to Chicago? What was your favorite part?

Summer adventure, part 1

I mentioned two weeks ago that I was in the middle of a journey. My 15-year-old daughter and I took the train from Sacramento to Chicago, a distance of roughly 2000 miles. We spent a few days in Chicago before flying back. I thought I’d share some pics. Today, train photos!

We got a bedroom on the train; it comes with its own bathroom. Which consists of a tiny toilet/shower cubicle. Using it was a bit of an adventure.


The room itself was comfy and we slept really well.

And the scenery was gorgeous, especially along the Colorado River.

If you have the opportunity to take the California Zephyr, do it! Oh, and I finished a novella somewhere in the middle of Iowa. 🙂





J. Scott Coatsworth on Magical Realism

The inimitable J. Scott Coatsworth has a new book out, and he’s here to talk about his inspiration.

Magical Realism

I’ve always had a fascination for magical realism, especially when it involves queer characters, but I haven’t found that much of it out there.

One stand-out exception is Nancy Springer’s Larque on the Wing, in which a suburban housewife unleashes her inner gay man.

Magical Realism is different from Urban or contemporary fantasy. In magical realism, the world is heightened by magic, but usually in a subtle, often beautiful way. But the world itself isn’t full-on magical.

Since I couldn’t find much with queer characters, I decided to write some of my own, and “The Bear at the Bar” is one of my first. It tells the tale of a gym bunny—a very athletic, very handsome gay man—who spends the day in the shoes of a bear – a man who is—shall we say—less traditionally attractive.

This story holds a place near and dear to my heart because it’s also the first fiction story I ever sold.

In 2014, I decided to try writing once again after a twenty-year hiatus. I stalked the Dreamspinner Press anthology web page, and wrote a story for every antho call on the site. This one was one of the first ones I submitted for, and when B.G. Thomas and Anne Regan chose it for the “bears” book “A Taste of Honey,” I was over the moon.

What followed was a rash of publications—more than twenty to date, that established me as a real author, and it all started from this little seed.

In a way, it brought a little magic into my own life—my own personal magical realism tale.

I hope you enjoy it!

Dex is a gay Adonis.

When he walks into Seattle’s Ransom bar, heads turn. He can have just about anyone he wants, and he does, every night.

Until he meets a bear at the bar and everything changes.

“The Bear at the Bar” is a short story originally published in 2014 in the “A Taste of Honey” anthology.


And now for something completely different….

As you read this, I’m on a train somewhere between Sacramento and Chicago. An adventure! But one without wifi or, for the most part, cell service. In theory, conducive to writing, right? I’ll post photos of the journey, and of some of the sights in Chicago.

But in the meantime, you have a book to preorder!

Blyd and Pearce releases from Dreamspinner July 24. I’ll have a blog tour in which I discuss one of my major inspirations for the book, noir books and films. I’ll have a giveaway too. But in the meantime you can admire that beautiful cover and preorder.

Also, be on the lookout for The Bureau: Volume 1 to release in audio format within the next week or so. Joel Leslie narrates it, and he did a wonderful job.

Interview Roulette: Antonia Aquilante

It’s Antonia Aquilante’s turn to spin the wheel!


  • One of your characters comes to you for advice. Who is it, what does he ask, and what do you tell him? I don’t know if any of them would! They’ve got their lives together pretty well right now (the ones whose books I’ve written anyway), and let’s face it, they mostly tell me what to do when I’m writing.
  • If you had a time machine, where/when would you go and why? Everywhere! Is that an acceptable answer? Because I want to see the past and the future and just everywhere. I’ve always loved history, and I just want to see what it was like. Really, I’ve been waiting for the Doctor to show up in the TARDIS and show me all of time and space for ages.
  • Describe a traumatic weather-related experience you’ve had. If you’ve never had any, make one up. Hurricane Sandy was pretty scary. I was really lucky—so many people lost so much, and I came out of it fine. But, yeah, that night was scary. Ninety mile an hour wind gusts were making this huge tree outside sway back and forth alarmingly. I didn’t want to go to bed in case it fell on the house. By the way, the tree survived that storm, but quite a bit of it came down during a March snowstorm this year. It blocked the driveway along with a lot of snow.
  • If you had to spend a week snowed in at a mountain cabin with one of your characters, who would you choose and why? Probably Faelen. He and I have a lot in common. We would just read and talk about books and eat cookies and drink really good hot chocolate for a week, all while curled up in cozy blankets in front of a fire. It sounds delightful actually.
  • What’s the most interesting or weird thing you’ve ever had to research for your writing? I mostly end up researching random things. How far a horse can travel in a day. Renaissance and baroque architecture. Renaissance universities. Which plants have medicinal properties, which also led to which plants can be used as poisons. Like all writers, I’m probably on a watch list somewhere!

Book blurb:

Faelen, cousin to the prince and son of a diplomat, has finally come home to Tournai after years away. The pull to return was almost tangible, and the sense of rightness at being back is absolute. He wants nothing more than to put down roots and build a life among family while pursuing his linguistic studies. Becoming involved in magic meant to protect Tournai isn’t part of his plans…and falling in love is even more unexpected and unfamiliar, but he finds himself doing just that as his friendship with Maxen deepens into something more.

Maxen, second son of a wealthy merchant family, longs to leave Tournai and visit everywhere he can. All his life, he’s found places on maps and dreamed, planning out routes to get to them. For now, he’s tied to Tournai’s capital city by family obligations and his position in their shipping business. Someday, though, he’ll be able to travel. His sudden attraction to Faelen shocks him, but their friendship soon becomes a necessary part of his life. Love, however, has no place in his plans, especially not love for a royal cousin with secrets who wants nothing more than to stay in one place.

For Faelen and Maxen to build something real between them, they must resolve their differences, but when magic goes awry and all Faelen’s secrets are revealed, will Maxen remain at his side?

Book buy links:

NineStar Press



Barnes & Noble



Author bio:

Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent – they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats which she shares with friends and family, and of course reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to ebooks, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, she is living there again after years in Washington, DC, and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the New Jersey Romance Writers, and the Rainbow Romance Writers.

Author contacts:

Guest Post: J. Scott Coatsworth

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer magical realism book out:

A group of strangers meets at Ragazzi, an Italian restaurant, for a cooking lesson that will change them all. They quickly become intertwined in each other’s lives, and a bit of magic touches each of them.

Meet Dave, the consultant who lost his partner; Matteo and Diego, the couple who run the restaurant; recently-widowed Carmelina; Marcos, a web designer getting too old for hook-ups; Ben, a trans author writing the Great American Novel; teenager Marissa, kicked out for being bi; and Sam and Brad, a May-September couple who would never have gotten together without a little magic of their own.

Everyone in the River City has a secret, and sooner or later secrets always come out.

Amazon | Amazon Paperback

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Matteo stared out the restaurant window into the darkness of Folsom Boulevard. It was getting dark earlier as summer edged into fall. Streetlights flickered on as cars drifted by, looking for parking or making the trip out of Midtown toward home.

The sign on the window read “Ragazzi” (the boys), lettered in a beautiful golden script just two months old. Investing in this little restaurant his uncle had left to them when he’d passed away had been their ticket out of Italy. But now with each passing day, as seats sat empty and tomatoes, pasta, and garlic went uneaten, the worry was gnawing ever deeper into Matteo’s gut.

Behind him in the open, modernized kitchen, Diego was busy cooking—his mother’s lasagne, some fresh fish from San Francisco, and some of the newer Italian dishes they’d brought with them from Bologna. The smells of boiling sauce and fresh-cooked pasta that emanated from the kitchen were entrancing.

They’d sent the rest of the staff —Max and Justin—home for the evening. The three customers who had shown up so far didn’t justify the cost of keeping their waiter and busboy on hand.

Matteo stopped at the couple’s table in front of the other window. “Buona sera,” he said, smiling his brightest Italian smile.

“Hi,” the man said, smiling back at him. He was a gentleman in about his mid-fifties, wearing a golf shirt and floppy hat. “Kinda quiet tonight, huh?”

“It always gets busier later,” Matteo lied smoothly. “Pleasure to have you here. Can I get you anything else?”

“A little more wine, please?” the woman said, holding out her glass so the charm bracelet on her wrist jangled.

“Of course.” He bowed and ducked into the kitchen.

He gave Diego a quick peck on the cheek.

His husband and chef waved him off with a snort. “Più tardi. Sto preparando la cena.”

“I can see that. Dinner for a hundred, is it? It’s dead out there again tonight.”

Diego shot him a dirty look.

Matteo retrieved the bottle of wine from the case and returned to fill up his guests’ glasses. “What brings you in tonight?” Maybe they saw our ad.…

“Just walking by and we were hungry. I miss the old place though.… What was it called, honey?”

Her husband scratched his chin. “Little Italy, I think?”

“That’s it! It was the cutest place. Checkered tablecloths, those great Italian bottles with the melted wax… so Italian.”

Matteo groaned inside. “So glad you came in” was all he said with another smile.

Author Bio

J. Scott Coatsworth

Scott lives with his husband Mark in a little yellow bungalow in East Sacramento, with two pink flamingos by the front porch.

He spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.

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