A Female Samurai with India Millar

I am a sucker for anything that has to do with the Samurai period in Japan. Toshiro Mifune is my boy. So when I heard about Firefly, the tale of a female samurai warrior, or “onna-bugeisha,” I was all in. So, meet India Millar.

India, who are you?

My name is India Millar, and I am a writer of historical fiction.  Also, I may well be one of the luckiest people I know – I make my living doing something I love. But like most things that are worth having, my journey to becoming a professional novelist was far from easy. In fact, my love of writing was born out of adversity. I come from a very poor family. My father died when I was eight, and to keep us both together, my mother was forced to work impossibly long hours. In those days, “latchkey” kids were common, and the authorities took no notice of us. Books didn’t figure in our tightest of budgets, so  I would come home from school, get myself something to eat and then head for the local library to lose myself in as many books as I could devour, staying there until they threw me out. And that was the start of wanting to be a writer for me. I soon began to create my own, private adventures in my head and I became a dreamer of other existences. I carried my own world in my head, whenever I had a spare moment weaving stories just for myself, for nothing more than to give myself pleasure. To me, this was perfectly normal. I was amazed when I found out that everybody didn’t do it. And it was only recently that I came across a term for it. Apparently, I am a “maladaptive dreamer.” I think that is a remarkably ugly title for one who gives pleasure by introducing their worlds to others. I wonder if I asked any of my favourite authors if they knew they were maladaptive dreamers, what they would say? (Wayne’s note: Hell yea, maybe we need tshirts!) I have a feeling that the response would be that – just like me – they wouldn’t have it any other way!

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In spite of my lifelong love affair with words, I never believed I would become a professional writer. That was for other people, not the daydreamer from nowhere. Now I have achieved the impossible and I spend my days bringing my dreams to life, I can only give thanks for those long-ago times that were my start in life. 

I really enjoyed Firefly, but tell my readers about it.

“Firefly” is the first in a series of books based on the true tradition of the warrior woman of the samurai. My heroine, Keiko, began life as the daughter of a wealthy samurai. But unlike most women of her class, she was not a pampered nothing, expected to do no more than marry and have as many male children as possible.  Dominated by her lovely elder sister, Keiko wanted no more than to win the love and respect of her father, who largely ignored her. . But she found to her cost that the ancient oriental saying of “be careful what you wish for, you may get it” can also become  a curse when it amused her brother to teach her the way of onna-bugeisha;  the revered warrior women of the samurai. She finally wins her freedom, but at a cost she could never have envisaged.

We share a fascination for that time period. What drew you to the world of samurai Japan?

I’ve been fascinated by the Victorian period for as long as I can remember. I think it is because it was the period in history when suddenly anything at all was not only possible, but likely.  Never has mankind achieved so much in a relatively short period; virtually everything we take for granted today had its roots in the Victorian age.  And I can’t remember a time in my own history when I wasn’t fascinated by Japan. Who could imagine a country that voluntarily closed its doors to the rest of the world for hundreds of years and then, in less than a century, rose to become a world power?  Geisha, samurai, courtesans, the code of bushido, haiku,the kabuki and bunraku theatres, warrior women who fought alongside their men and of course Edo’s Floating World… delicious!

So, what’s your favorite (or favourite) scene in the book?

It’s always difficult to divorce a certain scene from the whole. Of course, if it was easy to pick out one particular piece of the action, then that scene probably shouldn’t be there in the first place as it disturbs the harmony of the rest of the book. Having said that, I enjoyed writing about the incident that made Keiko realize she had achieved her goal of becoming onna-bugeisha. Her brother, Isamu, takes her to steal a golden eagle chick from the nest on an inaccessible mountain. Her father loves hunting and she knows that the rare and wonderful gift of a golden eagle will please him above all else. It does, but the dangerous mountain climb to reach the eagle’s nest and the mother bird’s frantic attempts to protect her chick nearly kills Keiko. And at the end of the day, it is her brother who takes the credit for the gift. As he tells Keiko, if their samurai father knew that she had had any part in stealing the chick, he would have declined the coveted bird because if a mere woman could have taken it, it would surely be worthless. A definite example of be careful what you wish for; you may get it!

Where can we learn more about you and all your books?

You can find me on Amazon, my website at www.indiamillar.co.uk, and Facebook.

We interrupt this interview for a shameless plug. Acre’s Orphans has won a much-coveted “Discovered Diamond” award for historical fiction. You can read the review here, or just take my word for it and buy the book.

New Orleans and Reconstruction- Amanda Skenandore

One of the best things about moving to Las Vegas has been developing a whole new network of local writers. One of the nicest and, more importantly, successful of these is Amanda Skenandore. Her first book, Between Earth and Sky, impressed the heck out of me. Her second, The Undertaker’s Assistant, is just out now.

I’ve met you a few times now, but tell my readers about you. What’s your deal?

I’m originally from Colorado, but I now live Las Vegas, NV with my husband and our pet turtle, Lenore. When I’m not writing, I work as a registered nurse at a local hospital. My first novel, Between Earth and Sky, came out last year. The highlight of my debut years was winning the American Library Association’s Reading List Award for Best Historical Fiction. My second novel, The Undertaker’s Assistant, released in July. I’m an avid reader, tea-drinker, and wanderlust. I love to write historical fiction because it transports me to past while at the same time shining light on the here and now.

What is your book about? 

The Undertaker’s Assistant follows the story of Effie, a young freedwoman who earns her living as an embalmer, as she seeks out her past amid the growing violence and racial turmoil of Reconstruction-era New Orleans. She says in the novel, “The dead can’t hurt you. Only the living can.” A former slave who escaped to the Union side as a child, she knows the truth of her words and keeps her distance from the living. But two encounters—with a charismatic state legislator named Samson Greene, and a beautiful young Creole, Adeline—introduce her to new worlds of protests and activism, of soirees and social ambition. Effie decides to seek out the past she has blocked from her memory and try to trace her kin. As her hopes are tested by betrayal, and New Orleans grapples with violence, Effie faces loss and heartache, but also a chance to finally find a place of belonging.

What is it about that time period or character that appealed to you? What are the roots of the story?

I wanted to explore Reconstruction. Growing up, I remember learning a lot about the Civil War, but very little about Reconstruction. I’d learned the names of a dozen generals, but not the names of the African American men elected to congresses and statehouses throughout the South in the decade following the War’s end. Some of these men, like Robert Smalls and Blanche Bruce, were former slaves. What struck me most as I researched, was how progressive the era of Reconstruction was and how quickly that progress crumbled. I’d been taught about carpetbaggers and political corruption, but not about systematic violence and intimidation that truly undermined this progress.

I also wanted to explore the nature of death and dying in an era when that experience was often more frequent and intimate than we know today. A few years ago, I came across an article in The New Republic titled “Who Owns the Dead.”  In it, the author explores the increasing distance modern funerary practices place between the living and the dead and compares that to earlier American practices. The intimacy and continuity of care our forbears practiced with the dead intrigued me. The article also mentioned how the rise of embalming in America coincided with the Civil War as families sought a way to bring loved ones killed in battle home for burial. I knew I wanted to set my second novel during the era of post-Civil War Reconstruction, so the profession of undertaking seemed like the perfect intersection of these two interests.

What is your favorite scene in the book?

My favorite scene—favorite scene to write anyway—was one that takes place during Mardi Gras. It’s Effie’s first social outing in the New Orleans and is unlike anything she’s experienced. I enjoyed researching early Mardi Gras traditions and imaging the varied sights, sounds, and smells Effie would have encountered. Mardi Gras in the 1870s was part celebration, part political rally, and part melee. The hand-stitched costumes and horse-drawn floats were not only mean to dazzle but to convey a message: carpetbagger-rule was coming to an end. It’s a tumultuous scene for Effie, one of both excitement and injury.

Where can we learn more about you and your books?

I’m most active on Instagram, but you can find me on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter too. My books are available wherever books are sold, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Acre’s Orphans is an Indie B.R.A.G Medallion winner

So, my little third-born Acre’s Orphans has received another honor. Indie B.R.A.G has given it their award for excellence.

Their committee of readers had some nice things to say, but this killed me:

Wow! The last book I reviewed for BRAG I wanted a rating below “Yes” but above “No”. This time I want a rating above”yes”.
Like maybe “bound to be a classic like Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer or Kim.” There should be an award above a simple
BRAG medallion, like maybe “A Double B.R.A.G. Medallion” or maybe “No! I won’t turn out the light until I finish reading this!”
which my wife got tired of hearing the last three nights. I usually complain loud and long about first-person books, as they
make the main characters too narcissistic and the other characters too shallow. Ten-year-olds KNOW the world revolves
around them, especially when they know how to successfully play the “poor but cute orphan” face. First-person is perfect for
the “son of fleas”. Perhaps it is his training as an observer/spy (like Kim in Rudyard Kipling’s stories) that allows him to flesh
out the characters around him. The momentous events of history seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old put some of those
legendary people in their appropriate places. I look forward to reading the first book to get Lucca’s take on the Hattin debacle,
which is one of my favorite times in history to have NOT been there. This is one of the few books I wish I had written. Maybe if
I write until I die, my last book will approach the quality of “Acre’s Orphans”.

Reviewer, Indie BRAG

I’m honored and humbled (shut up! I can be humble if I have to!) at the love the book is receiving. Go check it out already…

The First Draft is Done. Ta-Dah!

The first draft of a book is often malformed, ugly, and unfit for human consumption. Such is the case with the first draft of Johnny Lycan. You know what? I don’t care! It’s done. Let the rewrites begin.

Yes, Johnny Lycan. That might be a clue as to what it’s about. Or not. Stay tuned.

It’s done. It’s unlike anything I have ever written before, and I think it will be really good when it’s been whipped, prodded, dragged and mercilessly pounded into submission.

Here’s what it’s not: Historical fiction. Not even close. Those of you who read Count of the Sahara, Acre’s Bastard and Acre’s Orphans and have come to know me through those books, I really, really, really hope you stay with me. I get it if you don’t.

Here’s what it is: Nope, not ready to tell you yet. But it will be funny. And bloody. And more like some of my short stories than any book I’ve written so far.

Stay tuned for details, and of course, you can join my mailing list for updates. Just use the email link on the left-hand side to let me know you want to be added.

Now there will be a Templeton Rye and a Cigar. Because that’s how we roll here at Casa Turmel when milestones get met. Send thoughts and prayers for the ugly little bugger. He’ll need all the help he can get.

Join me June 29 at B&N Henderson

HI all. My first Las Vegas area book signing will take place Saturday, June 29 at the Barnes and Noble in Henderson, NV from 1-3 PM.

I will be there with copies of my award-winning “Lucca le Pou” novels, Acre’s Bastard and Acre’s Orphans. Stop by, grab a cup of coffee and get a signed copy of these books. I’ll also be dropping big greasy hints about my next novel as well.

A Real-Life British Adventurer During the Napoleonic Wars – Tom Williams

As someone who writes business books (and damn fine ones like The Long-Distance Leader, for example) I understand the need to escape by writing historical adventure. Enter Tom Williams, who after a long career of being respectable now writes a series of adventures set during the Napoleonic War. The “Burke, His Majesty’s Confidential Agent series” is the result.

So, Tom, what’s your deal?

I’m an old, old man, living in London yet still somehow able to drag myself out of the house to street-skate and dance tango. I write stories set in the wars against France in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, which you’d think I could remember, but I can’t quite. I have to read up the details in books.

I’ve written about the mid-19th century too. One story, set in London in 1859, describes an area that my grandfather patrolled as a policeman only a few decades later. (I told you I was old.)
All of my stories are set in different countries, which has given me the opportunity to travel to Borneo, Egypt, Belgium, Argentina and Spain and call it work. I have set one story in India, but I have yet to get there. One day, I hope.

The series looks like a lot of fun. It starts with “Burke in the Land of Silver,” so what’s the story?

Burke in the Land of Silver is the first of the stories I’ve written about James Burke, a spy in the time of Napoleon. He was a real person and the first story is quite closely based on truth. It’s set around the British invasion of Buenos Aires in 1806. I love Buenos Aires, so I was really happy to set a story there.

I’d written a book set in Borneo in the 1850s (The White Rajah) and publishers had told me that it was “too difficult” as a first novel so I was looking for something more mainstream. I kept bothering friends to suggest interesting historical figures and an Alaskan woman I’d met dancing in Argentina (as you do) suggested that I look at Europeans who had been involved with the wars of independence and the opening up of South America to European colonisation. I came across references to James Burke and the more I found out about him, the more I thought he was an ideal hero. Dashing, clever, brave, apparently irresistible to women (he had affairs with a queen and a princess amongst others) and someone who seems to have had a very successful career as a spy, he was almost impossible not to write about.

SOLD! I’m a sucker for real-life people with exciting lives. It’s like when I discovered Byron de Prorok and it became The Count of the Sahara. What’s your favorite scene of derring-do?

There’s an episode where Burke crosses the Andes. He left it rather late in the year and nearly died in the snow up there. I’ve read a lot about it but I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like, so I went to the Andes rather too early in the year when there was still snow around and took a horse up to something over 3000 metres. I have never been so cold, but it was a staggering experience and I hope I caught some of it in the book. The Andes really are beautiful.

Where can folks learn more about the Burke stories, the White Rajah and more?

Tom’s blogs appear regularly on his website, http://tomwilliamsauthor.co.uk where you can also find details of all his books. You can follow him on Twitter as @TomCW99 or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTomWilliams).

Not to barge in on Tom’s interview, but Acre’s Orphans is out now. You can order Paperbacks on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters. The e-book is Kindle only Please help me launch it successfully by buying now. And any time you read a book  like The Burke serie (or one of mine,) please leave an Amazon or Goodreads review. It’s like applause for  the author.

It’s Here. Acre’s Orphans is Out in the World

Even in a city as dirty, crowded, and generally stinky as Acre the smell of smoke stands out from the other odors. There are two kinds of smoke smells. The good kind promises a warm charcoal fire on a cold, rainy day—or a hot meal pretty much any time.

Today, it was the bad kind, and far more exciting…

Acre’s Orphans is the continuing tale of Lucca Le Pou, an orphan boy on the streets of Acre-the wickedest city in the world. He may have survived the Battle of Hattin, but now his beloved city is about to fall to Salah-adin and the Saracens.

What’s left of the Kingdom of Jerusalem is fractured and fighting among itself. When he uncovers a plot to divide the remaining Crusaders, he must get news to the Tyre–the last remaining Crusader stronghold. Can he make it before it’s too late for everyone he loves?

If you’re one of the many readers from around the world who enjoyed Acre’s Bastard, this is the next journey. If you haven’t read the first book yet, this one stands alone and only adds to Lucca’s growing legend.


“The characters are intriguing, the plot is tight, and there is fresh adventure around every turn. Well worth the read”

Windy City Reviews

You can order Acre’s Orphans on Kindle or the paperback at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Chapters.ca

Jack the Ripper Meets Conan Doyle- Bradley Harper

The best part of writing (or reading) historical fiction is the “what if” game. So here’s one for you. What if Arthur Conan Doyle was caught up in the Jack the Ripper investigation and THAT’S what gave birth to Sherlock Holmes? You gotta admit, that’s a good one, and it’s the premise of Bradley Harper’s novel, A Knife in the Fog.

I stumbled across the book while listening to Ilana Masad’s podcast, The Other Stories (check it out.)

So, Brad, what’s your deal?

I’m a retired US Army pathologist with over 200 autopsies to my credit, about twenty of which were forensic in nature. Prior to attending med school I was an Airborne Infantry officer who had a bad encounter with an army physician, and I decided I could do better. I’ve had four commands, served in the Pentagon on the personal staff of the US Army Surgeon General, and while supporting US Special Forces in Colombia had a $1.5 million bounty on my head for anyone who could deliver me alive to the FARC (offer no longer valid, by the way). In Nov-Dec timeframe my wife of forty-five years and I portray a happily married couple from the North Pole at a local theme park. I’m a soft touch however, and only threaten those on the Naughty List with Spiderman Underoos or burnt cookies.

You are a doctor, double as Santa Claus AND write  your butt off. That’s a good life you got going. What’s the premise behind Knife  in the Fog?

My book is a work of historical fiction, in which I put a relatively unknown young Arthur Conan Doyle on the trail of Jack the Ripper, until the Ripper begins stalking him. I did extensive historical research into the Ripper murders, the Whitechapel area, and Victorian society. I relied heavily upon the expertise of Ripper historian Richard Jones, who besides having two books to his credit on the Ripper, runs a walking tour company that goes in Whitechapel at night. I bought out an evening tour so for some three hours the two of us ambled through the Ripper’s old hunting grounds, and stopped for a drink at the Ten Bells, a pub that served two of the Ripper’s victims, and is still in business today. 

That’s a killer premise. How’d it come to you?

My idea for the book came to me one day while reading about Doyle on Wikipedia. I was surprised to learn that there was a four-year gap between the first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet (written 1886, released 1887), and the Sign of Four (written and released in 1890). Doyle had a terrible time getting anyone interested in the first story, and in the end settled for twenty-five pounds and loss of copyright just to get it published. Doyle was so embittered that he swore to never write another “crime story.” The Ripper murders happened in late summer and early fall of 1888, and I conceived of a tale involving Doyle that would explain why he eventually agreed to return to Holmes and why the Ripper suddenly stopped without ever knowingly being caught. The idea just grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. 

Tell us about one particular scene in your book

During my walk with Mr Jones he mentioned that the discovery of the body of the Ripper’s fifth victim, Mary Kelly, coincided with the installation of the new Lord Mayor of London, scarcely a mile away, and that thousands of people left the ceremony to witness her body’s removal. The report at the time mentioned that the crowd was utterly silent as her body was carted away in a simple wooden box. I interspersed the sights and sounds of the formal ceremony with this scene of pathos, and had the sounds of celebration just discernible to the silent witnesses to the Ripper’s foul handiwork. 

It was a similar one-on-one with a tour guide that inspired Acre’s Bastard and Acre’s Orphans. What else should we know?

My book is available at all major bookstores and most independents that deal with mystery, as well as Amazon, and an audio book (Tantor Media)  and ebook format are also available. I was flattered to be allowed to choose the narrator, and Mathew Lloyd Davies, who won an Audie in 2018, just blew me away. A former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, his narration is really a performance. Hearing my words voiced by a professional actor was a thrill I really can’t describe.

Not to barge in on Brad’s interview, but Acre’s Orphans is now available for pre-order on Amazon,  Barnes and Noble, and Chapters. Please help us launch it successfully by buying now. And any time you read a book  like Knife in the Fog (or one of mine,) please leave an Amazon or Goodreads review. It’s like applause for  the author.

Medieval sleuths and romance with Jennifer Ash

I love historical fiction that plays inside other genres, and today’s interview with Jennifer Ash is a good example of that. It’s also encouraging to know that people can write Histfic and stil play with other types of stories, since the novel I”m working on now ain’t historical by any stretch of the imagination.

Alright, lady. What’s the Jennifer Ash story?

With a background in history and archaeology, I should be sat in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, and writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, I’m tucked away in the SouthWest of England, writing stories of medieval crime, steeped in mystery, with a side-order of romance. Influenced by a lifelong love of Robin Hood and medieval ballad literature, I’ve written TheOutlaw’s Ransom (Book One of TheFolville Chronicles), The Winter Outlaw (Book Two of The Folville Chronicles) and Edward’sOutlaw (Book Three of The FolvilleChronicles). In addition, I”m also an audio script writer for ITV’s hit television show, Robin of Sherwood. Quiet as it’s kept, I also write contemporary fiction as Jenny Kane.

So what’s this third installment about?

Edward’s Outlaw, is the third of The Folville Chronicles. It continues the story of Mathilda of Twyford- a 19-year-old potter’s daughter whose life changed forever when she was held to ransom by the Folville family while her father pays off his debt to them (The Outlaw’s Ransom). This installment is set in January 1330: King Edward III’s England is awash with the corruption and criminal activity that his mother, Queen Isabella had turned a blind eye to- providing it was to her advantage. Now, having claimed the Crown for his own, Edward is determined to clean up England. Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault and her special advisor- a man who knows the noble felons of the countries Midland region very well- KingEdward orders the arrest of five of the Folville brothers…including Robert deFolville, who has just married Mathilda of Twyford. For her own safety, Robert takes Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle, but no sooner has he left, when a maid is found murdered in the castle’s beautiful guest suite, the Fire Room. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was she the target, or is Mathilda deFolville’s life in danger? Asked to investigate by the sheriff in exchange for him deliberately taking his time in the hunt for her husband, Mathilda uncovers far more than murder.

Sounds like fun! What got you all fired up about this time period?

I’ve been fascinated with the early fourteenth century since I was fourteen, when I fell in love with the legends of Robin Hood. I read everything I could on the subject and the history that surrounds it. It soon became clear to me that if there had been a Robin Hood, he would have been around during the rule of one of the King Edward’s – probably Edward II or III (or both).  While at university, I completed a PhD on the subject of medieval crime and ballad literature. During the course of my research I came across the Folville family and was immediately fascinated by them. They were a noble family of seven brothers who took crime as their way of life. If you compare their crimes to those recorded in the earliest Robin Hood literature, there are many overlaps. I began to wonder if the brothers, from Ashby Folville in Leicestershire, were the inspiration behind the original ballads- or were they inspired by those ballads themselves?

In The Folville Chronicles I adopted this latter theory. That the Folville brothers, in particular Robert de Folville, were inspired by the code of conduct the Robin Hood ballads promoted. During the 1320’s and 1330’s England was in chaos; the law was corrupt – it’s not surprising that even their heroes were criminals.

I know this is completely unfair, but it’s my blog and I can jolly well ask what I want. What’s your favorite scene in the book?

I love the Fire Room scenes. This is the location at the heart of the mystery. A turret room in Rockingham Castle; it is surrounded by phoenix-covered tapestries which intrigue Mathilda- and with good reason.

Where can people learn more about your work… in all genres?

All of Jennifer and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at www.jennykane.co.uk

My Twitter accounts are @JenAshHistory@JennyKaneAuthor

Jennifer Ash https://www.facebook.com/jenniferashhistorical/

Jenny Kane https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011235488766Amazon  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jennifer-Ash/e/B01MDOGGJ6/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Watch for Acre’s Orphans, coming January 21, 2019


“… a splendid adventure laced with new perils at every turn…”  Barbara Barnett, Stoker award-winning author

I am a Terrible Person. I Kind of Dig It.

I am a terrible, awful, very bad person.

This is clear to me now. There’s no avoiding it. I mean, I don’t kick kittens or steal Salvation Army kettles or anything like that. But I am an objectively evil person because, as a writer, I kind of enjoy torturing my readers. That’s not nice, right?

Example 1: Acre’s Bastard  

My new novel, Acre’s Bastard will be out in January of 2017 and available in all formats and online stores

So, prepublication for the book, I was sending out copies to some folks who said they’d read an advance copy and maybe give me some quotes or reviews. I didn’t know many of these folks, and they’d all read a synopsis. The next day I got a Facebook message from one of these ladies giving me hell and saying I should have put a content warning on the book and I was an irresponsible author for not telling people that certain content might not be appropriate.

Remember, this is Acre’s Bastard. The one many people say is really a (shiver) YA book in disguise. What had gotten her so upset?

The exact quote was, “the graphic sexual assault in chapter 2 triggered my PTSD and really upset me. If you’d put a warning up front I never would have read this horrible thing.”

I was mortified. I don’t want to belittle her experience, and I truly am sorry I upset her. I  went to several other people for their opinion. They all felt it was fine, and she was overreacting. I sent her a note saying there were no hard feelings for her posting her feelings all over Facebook for complete strangers and potential readers to see (even though I thought it was a bit much, you can’t discount people’s feelings or experience.)

Here’s what makes me a bad person: Once I got over the shock of her reaction, one thought kept recurring to me. I was actually kinda proud of myself. To get that reaction,  I must have written the s@#$t out of that scene. It made me smile. Still does. I’m a bad person.

Example 2: Los Angeles, 1952

This is one of my favorite short stories (you can read it here and judge for yourself.) I’ve never been able to find a home for it, for two reasons. First, it’s over 5000 words, and in this world where most short stories are published online, that pretty much makes it War and Peace. Secondly though, it contains a certain word. A word I’ve never used in real life and makes me cringe. You know, the N word.

Just last week a magazine editor told me how much he enjoyed the story, thought it was very well written, but “some of the language” made him uncomfortable and he couldn’t publish it. Now, I can protest (as I often do) that the language and behavior of the characters are not necessarily those of the management. Truth is, when I thought of Lorna yelling that word during the excitement of a boxing match, I smiled because I knew how readers would respond. When I brought it into my writers group, I could hear gasps when they got to “that scene” and it made me happy to my toes. Again, not very nice of me was it?

The latest example: Acre’s Orphans

A character dies in chapter 12. A character a lot of people are very fond of. And I laughed out loud when it came to me. Not in a text-y LOL kind of way, but really laughed. So loud it scared Byron, my cockatiel. Not because it wasn’t sad, but because if I did my job right it would elicit a South Park “you bastards you killed Kenny” moment. When several of my beta readers told me how they reacted, I didn’t apologize. I didn’t shrink. I soaked up their emotional responses, lit a cigar and thought, “yeah baby. That’s my job.”

The truth is, I like making people laugh. I like making them cheer, but I also like making them have an unexpected emotional reaction. Sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it’s horror, or sadness, or disgust. Good. That’s my freaking job.

Someone once said that being a novelist is like telling a joke and waiting 6 months for the laugh. It’s true. If a writer touches you in the feels, let him or her know. Better yet tell them AND Amazon with a review.It’s kinda why we do this.

Even if it means we have to admit we’re terrible, awful, really bad people.