July 10th Author Profile: Jennifer Soucy

Jennifer Soucy is a spirited New England girl who loves to explore both the world around her and the vivid realms within her imagination. Born and raised in Connecticut, she currently lives in Georgia after a stint in Las Vegas. She’s an editing assistant, 25-year veteran of the service industry, and a proud nerd whose various hobbies involve some combination of horror and fantasy.

DEMON IN ME, her debut novel, is an adult contemporary horror/dark fantasy. THE NIGHT SHE FELL, a contemporary adult dark fantasy/paranormal romance novel, also has a sequel due in Fall 2021. CLEMENTINE’S AWAKENING, a southern gothic/horror, was released by Silver Shamrock Publishing. THE MOTHER WE SHARE, a contemporary YA dark fantasy/horror, was recently released by RhetAskew Publishing.

Her best ideas are often inspired by deliberately inducing nightmares, translating those into tales which may occasionally encourage readers to sleep with a light on.

Follow Jennifer online:
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads /
Instagram / Amazon

Author portrait by Georgia Geis
Follow Georgia @atomicnumber14

Jennifer, How do you come up with ideas for a project?

 
My ideas come from lots of places—previous experience, dreams or nightmares—though the initial seed usually sprouts from a “What-if” scenario. For instance, the first two books I wrote, The Mother We Share and Clementine’s Awakening, were both loosely inspired on previous life experiences. In TMWS, I include the origin in the Acknowledgments. My younger sister created a scary bedtime story (The Green-Eyed Girl) for her kids, which inspired me years later to dig deeper: What if the Green-Eyed Girl was real, and why might she really be stalking her victim/sister? In CA, I’d worked for nearly twenty-five years in restaurants, one time in a location we believed was haunted, but I felt the spirit was somewhat benevolent—at least toward some of us. So I thought to myself: What if a ghost did haunt a restaurant, but she became friends with one of the servers?
 
I guess in a way I’m lucky to have seen and done a lot of strange things. Combine that with a highly active imagination, and I’m fortunate enough to have more than enough ideas to play with.
 

After you have a new idea, how much research do you do?

 
It really depends on the topic. I try not to pick anything that goes way beyond my basic scope of knowledge. Not that a writer shouldn’t do that, but for myself I don’t like to spend a ton of time on research unless it’s absolutely necessary. I actually enjoy learning, so once I get sucked into a research wormhole I can be gone for a while.
 
To make it easier on myself, I write main characters who I find relatable. Their interests, occupations, strengths and weaknesses are all things I can identify with on some level. Even the story settings are usually places I’ve visited or lived in, that way I have some familiarity while writing the bones of the story.
 
Research is inescapable, even with those circumstances. For example, the Irish folklore in TMWS was complex enough I definitely researched the topic to brush up my existing knowledge. Certain locations require an element of research, too, especially if you’re a fan of mentioning key landmarks, streets, or even discussing weather on specific times of the year.
 
But again, I try to keep the research to something of a minimum to avoid distracting myself from actually writing. Worldbuilding and research are important and add value for the reader, but as writers we can’t ever lose sight of our end goal—finishing the damn story!
 

Do you research things throughout your creative process or just at the beginning?

 
I might do a little research during the beginning, often for information or setting a mood in my own mind, but often I find myself taking breaks at times during the writing to doublecheck things. In CA, for instance, an unexpected character appeared who ended up adding a lot to the narrative. However, she had a certain gift I’d only heard tell of but never really researched so I had to stop for a couple of days and do some learning. I think it was worth it in the end, even if I didn’t use everything I studied, and I hope the readers enjoyed that added layer.
 
What’s the strangest thing you’ve researched for a project (go check that Google search history)?
 
Oh god, if people could see my Google search history… I already told my boyfriend get ready to bail me out ‘cause anyone who finds it will think I’m a maniac!
 
I don’t know if this is necessarily the strangest thing I’ve researched for a project, but I had a question on my current WIP: Do cockroaches drink blood? Turns out, yes, they do—and they have a grand old time hanging around corpses, filling their nasty bellies (carapaces? Whatever lol). Keep that in mind if you see them poking around your house, crawling over your belongings, and you’re not sure if exterminating them is worth the cost. Do it!
 

When you write, do you try to stay close to the Actual Factual or are you fast and loose with Handwavium (a term used when a writer waves their hand at reality for sake of the plot)?

 
I’m a pretty imaginative person with a great respect for artistic liberty. My reading preference is also heavily rooted in horror and fantasy, so I’m cool with anything supernatural/paranormal. That said, there’s definitely a time where facts matter (although, there’s also room for a bit of handwaving once you’ve laid the story’s foundation).
 
Suspension of disbelief is hugely important in fiction, whether it’s a book, movie, or tv show. That doesn’t mean everything has to be rooted in solid fact, but plot features/situations have to be believable. For me, this goes back to creating effective characters and setting the scene. If the artist has created a believable, relatable character and world, then there’s a lot we, the audience, will forgive or overlook as the story expands.
 
But I would also add that PoV and genre/sub-genre matter in this discussion. If we’re in the PoV of a believably confused or unreliable character, we can swallow their mistakes or misperceptions with greater ease if the creator is doing their job. If you’re writing a story with sci-fi elements, for example, you will want some hardcore science facts mixed in with your fantasy elements. Sci-fi readers have certain expectations that must be met, otherwise they’ll never find themselves sinking into the story and suspending disbelief when the really wild things start happening.
 
Long story short, I guess it depends mostly on what you’re writing. Be flexible and adaptable, and definitely plan on including some blend of facts with your fiction to make it more robust.
 
 

Have you ever stopped reading a story to go look up how factual something was?

 
Hah, yes! I should say, I don’t necessarily recall the last time I did that for a book, but I’m terrible at this when it comes to movies and tv shows. I’m a huge history buff, so when I watch stories inspired by history I find myself Googling when the writers try to pull a fast one.
 
I drive my boyfriend crazy cause I’ll pause and Google, then cry, “I knew it! All lies!”
 
He always says, “Remember this is a movie, relax. It doesn’t have to be perfect.”
 
I guess that relates to what I said earlier, though, about blending facts and fiction. If you tell the audience right from the beginning this is based on or inspired by real events, then you’d better be ready to include some solid facts. Of course, in the books/shows I truly enjoy and get lost in, it only occurs to me after that I might want to see if any of it was possible or true—never while I’m under its spell, indicating the creator did their job by reeling me in. In short, I believe once we start detecting too much handwaving and artificial/unbelievable drama, we can’t just relax and enjoy the story, so creators beware!
 
 

Do you create with music, other background noise or complete silence?

 
I love music almost as much as books, so yes, I write to music. Part of my worldbuilding process for every WIP is building a playlist that relates to themes, characters, location, or other factors. I don’t play it very loud, as that might get distracting, but it keeps my conscious mind occupied so my subconscious can peek out and help during the writing process.
 
As an example, here’s the link for my Spotify playlists:
 https://open.spotify.com/user/8udiuswxmlm0xq55c2duyu1c4?si=ab6c5e8d86214038&nd=1
 
If you’ve read any of my books and want to see what helped inspire them, the music is like a behind-the-scenes peek!
 

Do you have any pet helper?

 
I wouldn’t call her a helper, but I do have a pet. Buffy’s our newest family member, a 7-month-old kitten. She’s kind of an attention hog at this stage of her life, so I find myself locking her out of the room when I write otherwise she races around and often stops to bite my toes or claw my legs. Maybe one day she’ll be more of a help, haha.
 

Do you create better at 5am or 5pm?

 
Definitely 5am. I enjoy my morning writing sessions as I’m a weird combination of awake and asleep still, waiting for the coffee to kick in. The sleepiness is nice at times because it keeps my subconscious in a sort of dream state, but one that I can access like a lucid dream. It really helps me get the words on the paper, allowing me to dance between real life and the world I’m creating on my computer.
 
I can also write late at night, but that mid-afternoon/evening is hard because I usually have to do other more mundane tasks which take most of my attention. I save those hours for working on other people’s projects or for doing basic stuff like cleaning and cooking.
 

Which team apocalypse are you on: zombie, asteroid, or alien invasion?

 
Great question! I think I’m prepared for each of them.
 
I only got into zombies after meeting my boyfriend twenty years ago, as he’s a huge Romero zombie fan, but I feel we’ve done well planning our response to a zombie attack. I’d say check in with us during the zombie apocalypse, but we plan to be long gone to avoid teaming up with bumbling people who will probably get us killed (like in all the movies/shows lol!).
 
As for aliens, I’ve always loved the notion of them since watching E.T. as a wide-eyed kid in the theater. My belief solidified during my teen years after reading Communion by Whitley Strieber, one of the scariest books I’ve ever read. I’m so psyched with all these UFO videos popping up, and my fingers are crossed that we could learn more soon. Whether they end up being benevolent or monstrous, I just want to see them before I die (please, don’t kill me, aliens!).
 
Asteroid attack…yeah, not sure one can prepare for that. Although one of my favorite movies ever is sort of related to this idea. Melancholia isn’t about an asteroid but a rogue planet on an unavoidable collision course with Earth, and it’s seriously one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. The relationship between the sisters and how each slides along a spectrum of stability and mental illness the closer their world inches toward destruction touched my very soul. I highly recommend it for a lesson in quality storytelling and complex characters that really test the boundaries of our empathy.
 
 

You mentioned you are a 25-year veteran in the service industry, how has that helped you in your writing career?

 
It’s definitely shown me a lot about people and society, that’s for sure. When you hear the cliche “Truth is stranger than fiction,” trust that it’s a cliche for a darn good reason. People will never cease to amaze you—sadly, it’s often in the most shocking, deplorable ways possible. Of course, there are also amazing people out there with genuine compassion for others who are a treasure to either work with or wait upon. Working in a restaurant, you’ll encounter them all and everyone in between. It’s a wild environment, and you can never say you’ve seen it all. Once you do, a situation will arise and reset the whole game.
 
I feel surviving that many years of chaos has not only fed my imagination but also made me a better and stronger person. I’ve seen the best and worst of humanity, so it really helps when creating characters and putting them in unusual situations. Even after all that, I still love the industry. With the bad, there’s still so much good. The friends you make are like war buddies. You’ve survived the impossible together and forge bonds for life. You learn patience and endurance, which a writer definitely needs. Even though those years kept me from writing because I stayed so busy, I wouldn’t trade the experience.
 

You’ve lived in Connecticut, Las Vegas, and now Georgia. How have the places you lived influence your writing?

 
I love traveling, seeing new places and meeting new people. I also love exploring and learning about other cultures. Even in our one country, each region is so unique because of certain traditions and beliefs. Also each region has some pretty awesome legends and lore, which again have fed my creativity and imagination.
 
New England, the deep South, and the American West are all very different but I’ve loved them all even though each also has their downside. I think the times in my life I lived there also played a role. I spent my formative years in CT, a place rich in history (often very spooky history), so that left a mark. GA has been home for most of my adult life, with a lot of conflicts and obstacles but also triumphs. Las Vegas was a refuge at a time when I needed one, so I find that sneaking into stories, too, such as Demon in Me where the main character also likens the city as a haven where she could find herself again.
 

If you got to use some “Handwavium” and send younger Jennifer one note about writing, editing, or marketing, which would you chose and what would you say?

 
I would definitely tell younger Jennifer to study marketing. What a pain it is! The writing and editing always came somewhat easily as I did well throughout school in related subjects. Plus I credit a lifetime of reading with helping those tasks seem more natural and easier to accomplish. But marketing? I’m from Gen X, so I’m not a complete idiot with the internet and technology, but it still can be challenging. I know there’s more I can do, more sites to use as a platform, and I really need to work on building my newsletters, but it all feels really overwhelming. I wish I’d spent some time working on marketing in the modern age because learning it all now is definitely time-consuming.
 
You had several books released in the last few months, can you give us the run down and can you share what we can expect next?
 
So far this year, I’ve released two books: Clementine’s Awakening and The Mother We Share, the first two books I wrote in 2018. Yes, sometimes publishing works out that way where your books don’t always get released in the order they were written. Still, these stories hold very special places in my heart, and I’m so delighted to see them out in the world.
 
This fall, I plan on releasing the sequel to The Night She Fell which is called She Who Destroys. As for what comes after, there’s definitely plenty waiting in the wings but nothing I can confirm yet. I do know one thing, I haven’t stopped writing since 2018 so I promise there’s plenty of stories left to tell!
 

Jennifer, thank you for your time. Is there anything else you’d like folks to know about you, your work, or your research process?


I just want to add that this past year or so has been difficult for all of us, some more than others. Be patient and kind. Treat people as you wish to be treated. Sure, not everyone will appreciate that and you may have to leave them behind, but plenty of people will be grateful for your sincere efforts. We’re all in this together, and it’s time to start moving forward again. Live, love, and always chase your dreams. Life’s short, so don’t waste a minute of potential joy.

Follow Jennifer on Social Media.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads /
Instagram / Amazon

July 10th: Tree Farts, Cyanobacteria Airborne Poison, the Eusocial lifestyle, and Almost One Year of Handwavium

Tree farts, pond scum and cooperative ferns.

After I write my Rabbit Hole of Research episodes I keep my eye on the science, and will update if I see some interesting new research popping up. Last year I had an episode on Killer Plants (read it here), and here are some new botanical findings:

1) So, one article explores the idea that Ferns create eusocial colonies (what is an eusocial colonies you ask?) According to Britannica: An eusocial species, is any colonial animal species that lives in multigenerational family groups in which the vast majority of individuals cooperate to aid relatively few (or even a single) reproductive group members—simply put: think insects like ants or mole rats living in a colony. I can hear Spock’s voice in my head, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” —and now we can add ferns to the list of eusocial species—read more here.

2) So, it has been long known that Cyanobacteria over growing in ponds, “blooms,” can produce toxins, but a new report shows evidence for airborne toxins

3) And one last botanical laugh—Tree Farts! So, it seems “ghost forests”—“Ghosts forests” are drowned forests/marshlands with the remains of dead and decaying trees under water (read more here). These marshlands have been found to generate one-fifth of greenhouse gases, but when compared to other sources of greenhouse gases, this is a minor contribution. 

I hear you out their asking, “Jotham, If the trees are dead then what is causing these farts. Microbes are what causes farts! And Just like you reading this newsletter, the microbes in your own intestines, digesting your food causes your farts. (I apologize to all the ferns for assuming a human-centric viewpoint that only humans can read).

Hopefully, this holds you over until the next edition of Rabbit Hole of Research—What, you checked the calendar and the next edition is the one year edition! That’s right we made it one year! So, to celebrate I’m going to revisit that first edition and return with more Sexy Space! To get ready for more Handwavium and Sex in Space you can reread that episode here.

Personal Update: It’s July 10th and I Ain’t Got Time To Bleed!

Happy July! I know we are a week or so in, but it’s never to late to spread some joy! The past week has been crazy and the crazy weather didn’t help. So what happened? My sump pump died and got about one inch of water in the laundry room—I jumped into action and replaced the sump pump, but while changing it I accidentally sliced my finger.

I was almost finished with installing the replacement sump pump when I cut my finger, so I wrapped a towel around my bleeding finger and continued to install the sump pump. My youngest son came up to me and said, “Dad, you’re bleeding”

I shook my head and responded, “I ain’t got time to bleed.”

print available @atomicnumber14


After I got the sump pump installed and most of the water cleaned up, I did go to urgent care. They patched me up with a few Steri Strips (did have a nice conversation with the Doc about stitches vs Steri Strips). I’m glad to report about a week later my finger is healing nicely!

In writing land, I finished the first round of edits on the two Novellas that will be published this fall (hurt finger cannot stop editing). Waiting to get some beta-reader feedback, but will have to send them off to editor for proofreading in August. 

Get ready and order your copy of Moonlight now (my novella, “Eve” will be in this along with any many other wonderful authors!)


Preorder ‘Moonlight: A Limited Edition Paranormal Romance Anthology’ is now available here.

Preorder Moonlight now!


My novella Eve, is about a werewolf named Eve (And yes, I did a science of werewolf episode). Eve is looking to protect her pact, to survive, and falling in love with a human is not part of her plan. As I mentioned, there is an awesome lineup of authors that I’m happy to be working with, so click the link and preorder Moonlight now

And, you read correctly, I said two novellas are being released this fall. The second will be in the Emerging Worlds Anthology. I am doing a post-zombie novella titled, “The Cure”. They promised the Cure would end Zombie and return life to normal, but nobody promised normal would be easy. I’ve wanted to write a zombie story for some time, and looking at post zombie life is fun. I just finished writing this one, but I will have to do a Rabbit Hole of Research on Zombies!!

As many of you know, my debut novel, “Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?’ was released on February 23rd 2021. I have paperback copies already available at my website, but I will soon have Hardback copies!!! Keep your eyes out for this. 

Also, Daniel Roche did a YouTube review of my novel: Go check it out here.

Hopefully, with COVID restrictions easing (folks are getting vaccinated which is good) I may be able to do book signings and other fun things, stay tuned for details! I do have books in the wild at Paul Henry’s Art Gallery in Hammond, IN and at the Green Witch Cafe in Highland, IN

And don’t worry, there will be a new issue of Rabbit Hole of Research on July 24th, the One Year Anniversary and I’ll be getting Sexy in Space again! If you want to read past issues, check them out here

Follow me online, and feel free to Email me with questions, comments, questionable science, or who you’d like to see interviewed.

Personal Update: June 26th 2016

This month has flown by, but there was a lot of activity. I had the pleasure of chatting with folks at the Juneteenth Celebration in Hammond, IN. I really enjoyed the conversations, the fellowship, celebrating the accomplishments of the next generation of young scholars, and overall excitement of the event. Cannot wait to do it again next year.

In other news my two novellas are ready to go off to the editor, I outlined a brand new novel, and I started writing the sequel to Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?

That’s right, I’m 10K words into it—I’ll keep you updated as I work on this project.

Here are a few images from the Juneteenth Celebration.
I had some great conversations and a few ideas for future Rabbit Hole of Research Episodes—Hopefully, I will be doing more events as the summer rolls along!

      
It was great talking about my book at the Juneteenth Celebration!
A number of readers have said one of their favorite lines in my debut novel is: “Sexual Chocolate Granny, the stuff airplane fantasies are made of …”

Sexual Chocolate Granny—Say what? Want to read more; still need a copy of “Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?” Buy Here

Thank you if you already picked up a copy. And a bigger thanks if you left me a review!

My werewolf romance novella, ‘Eve’ will be in the ‘Moonlight: A Limited Edition Paranormal Romance Anthology’ this fall; Preorder now available here

Author Interview with Shawn Burgess

Shawn Burgess is a dark fiction author with a love for the dark, chilling, and unusual, whether that be in his own writing, or in his reading of the works of others. His debut novel, The Tear Collector, was published in 2019 and its sequel, Ghosts of Grief Hollow is due out in 2021. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife and two sons.

Author portrait by Georgia Geis 
Follow Georgia @atomicnumber14

How do you come up with ideas for a project?

Every project is different. The Tear Collector was born from a string of dialogue with main characters Brooks, Robby, and Tee that I created on a flight to California. It ultimately ended up becoming Chapter 2 in the book. That simple dialogue exchange helped me define who each of those characters were, and I ultimately built the plot around them.

As a project for my oldest son, I wanted to create something that reflected my experiences growing up while simultaneously making it relatable to him in the modern day. Happily, he loved the book and even went dressed for Halloween as the character who shares his name, though it was certainly not age appropriate.

For the sequel, Ghosts of Grief Hollow, I started with a beginning and end in mind, plus a few key scenes. I wanted to keep the tone of the original book alive by still capturing the mystery, intrigue, and horror of its predecessor without repeating the same experience. 

Other projects I’m working on, like Deity, started out with a “what if” proposition. Some novel ideas in my notebook even start out with something as small as a piece of microfiction, but with every project, I want readers to experience right alongside the characters and almost feel as if they are there inside those pages.

After you have a new idea, how much research do you do?

The amount of research depends upon what each story demands. For The Tear Collector, there were some hypothetical scientific elements I needed to work out, which led me down a path of researching DNA and reading some academic papers so I could figure out how to best bastardize the science to fit the direction I wanted to take the story.

I find myself researching odds and ends throughout any manuscript, but sometimes it requires a deeper dive. In Ghosts of Grief Hollow, I had to do quite a bit of research on the colonial history of Saint Domingue (modern-day Haiti). I spent hours researching it, though the information gleaned only appears in a few lines of dialogue and one scene.

Still, other research is best acquired hands-on. I had my first tarot card reading (virtual because of the pandemic) and had a lengthy telephone discussion with another author who is familiar with readings and about the significance of each card. I took pages of notes. From there, it’s manipulating what you’ve learned to reach a desired outcome.

For my novel Deity, I’m still trying to find an industry resource for some very specific questions I have on raw material procurement for fracking that can’t be readily answered through Google searches.

I think most people don’t realize how much research goes into writing a fictional novel. I always do my best to prevent any plot holes and make the story as believable as possible.

Do you research things throughout your creative process or just at the beginning?

I’m not big on thorough outlines, or formal outlines for that matter, so my books typically demand at least some level of researching throughout the creative process. When taking unplanned diversions from what I have in mind, it almost always requires I do at least some additional research. It’s part of the writing process. What amazes me is the writers that came prior to the Internet Age and the amount of time they must’ve spent digging for answers that can be readily accessed in the modern era.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve researched for a project (go check that Google search history)?

There’s a running joke among authors about telling the FBI, don’t worry about my internet search history, I’m a writer. That said, I do find myself searching some very unusual topics: rate of decomposition in different climates, how that differs depending upon the manner of death, police tactics and procedures, seasonality of birds in different areas, the paranormal, the occult, and the list goes on. In my opinion, that inherent curiosity and thirst for information is one of the things that makes writers uniquely suited to this craft. I don’t know what my readers will know, but the safest assumption is to assume that they know more about any given topic than I do. That caution hopefully serves me well in avoiding writing something that will pull them out of the story and disrupt the suspension of disbelief.

When you write, do you try to stay close to the Actual Factual or are you fast and loose with Handwavium (a term used when a writer waves their hand at reality for sake of the plot)?

I fall somewhere in between. I try to ground my stories in relatable characters and facts, so that the more fantastical elements are easier for a reader to accept. However, I don’t think there’s a wrong strategy. So long as you can keep the reader humming along in the story, either can work, but I’m careful to make sure I include enough believable elements so I don’t go full-on Alice in Wonderland as that’s not the type of story I’m typically telling.

Have you ever stopped reading a story to go look up how factual something was? 

Absolutely. Who hasn’t? It typically comes from a place of genuine curiosity versus trying to disprove an element of a story. I enjoy getting lost in a book. I don’t ever want to feel like a critic as I’m reading. As a reader, I’m much more focused on the story and the enjoyment I get from that.

Do you create with music, other background noise or complete silence?

I can go either way. With The Tear Collector, I listened to a preselected playlist of alternative rock music because it was mostly written on planes and in hotel rooms. I needed something to block out the distraction. Lately, I’ve been doing most of my writing in silence, save for the owl in my tree outside who apparently keeps the same hours as I do.

Do you have any pet helper?

I grew up with dogs, but we don’t have any pets. With our hectic schedules, it would be a little cruel to own a dog as they would have to be crated and wouldn’t get any interaction during the day. My youngest son and I are also very allergic to cats, so that’s a nonstarter. 

Do you create better at 5am or 5pm?

I do my best work from 10PM on. However, I’ll write when I have the time and do no matter the hour.

Which team apocalypse are you on: zombie, asteroid, or alien invasion?

Great question. With an Asteroid, it’s one big bang and over, so then it really becomes a question of do you want to stick around for the misery. If aliens developed the technology to get here, we don’t stand a chance, so that’s going to end pretty quickly if they’re not here in the spirit of exploration. Sometimes, looking at the state of the world and near continual conflict, it’s hard to imagine them wanting to make nice. I’m going with Team Zombie. They’re slow and dumb as dirt. Obviously, the hordes make survival tricky, and the worst part would be seeing a friend or family member turned, but I think I could deal with commandeering a boat, loading it with fishing supplies, finding a small island, and living off the sea.

Shawn, you write mostly dark twisty thrillers, have you always written in this genre, or did you start in another genre and found your way to horror? 

I started writing horror stories when I was in elementary school, so this is definitely not breaking any new ground for me. I’ve always loved books and movies with those type of elements. 

I struggle with what to label myself because the stories I’ve written and ones I intend to write don’t always fall neatly into a genre; they tend to mix elements of a few. I’ve resorted to calling myself a dark fiction author lately, though I suppose the only time it matters what you choose to call yourself is when you need to market your books or write a bio. 

I’ve seen readers peg The Tear Collector as horror/psychological horror, psychological thriller, general fiction, coming-of-age, supernatural thriller, mystery, Adult, YA, fantasy and even sci-fi or any combination thereof. What matters most to me beyond the labels is that readers find and enjoy my stories, no matter what me or my publisher ultimately arbitrarily decides to call it. I’m working on “what I call” an urban fantasy/mystery, but even that has those twisty and darker elements, plus a touch of the supernatural and paranormal.

Do you read outside the genre you write in?

Yes. I read a wide variety of fiction and occasionally some non-fiction. If a story and its characters are compelling, I’d never exclude it from my reading list, but I do tend to gravitate toward darker works. 

You mentioned being inspired from living in Florida and other towns throughout southeastern US, how does that translate into your writing? (The local legends, creepy woods/trails, or just because they had a diner with good coffee and pie?)

Growing up in various spots in the southeast, I explored the woods with friends. My most vivid memories are from Birmingham and Nashville. In both places, we lived in the suburbs. At the time, there wasn’t the suburban sprawl there is today. There was still a large amount of undeveloped land in the area. For us kids, that became our playground. I found abandoned structures that predated the Civil War, small coal mining operations left to decay, hidden caves with albino fish, and secret lakes in the middle of the woods. That sense of exploration and wonderment leaves a lasting impression, and I try to bring some of that mystery to my writing.

In addition, I love bits of local legend and lore. The Tear Collector takes place in small-town Appalachia. I wanted to create that sense of being in a small town, the free-range approach of parents letting children explore the woods as was commonplace at the time. Though The Tear Collector definitely features some local legend prominently, its sequel, Ghosts of Grief Hollow, leans more heavily in to those aspects to give the reader a more holistic view of local beliefs and backstory, how those different story elements are interconnected, and how they helped create the antagonist while simultaneously sealing the fate of the town of Harper Pass.

Like most small towns, Harper Pass has its share of skeletons in the closet. Ghosts of Grief Hollow brings those into the forefront to reveal the ugliness that can exist in humans as well as in monsters of a more fantastical variety.

If you got to use some “Handwavium” and send younger Shawn one note about writing, editing, or marketing, which would you chose and what would you say?

I’ve learned a great deal since starting this journey. The most important lesson it’s taught me is that there are always new things to learn. When you’re going through the publishing process for the first time, everything is new. It’s easy to feel like you’re drinking from a firehose, especially if publishing is not something you’ve even been following closely from the sidelines prior to diving in. I consider myself fortunate for finding a publisher who believed in my story as much as I did. There are so many things I wish I knew about each of those aspects of publishing a book and everything that surrounds it. But you don’t know what you don’t know until you realize you don’t know it.

But to answer your question, the biggest piece of advice I would give to my younger self would be about writing and simply put, don’t wait. I kept putting off writing books because I was always waiting for that right moment. I should’ve realized there was never going to be a perfect time. Now, I prioritize writing among my other responsibilities, and that balance appears to be working.

The Tear Collector is your latest novel, and I know you are working on a sequel, can you share any details? 

I am super excited about Ghosts of Grief Hollow. I’m currently in the editing process, so I’ve been spending a ton of time with the manuscript. It’s very fast paced and should quicken the pulse of readers. It’s the darkest, most twisty thing I’ve ever written. Some new characters are coming into the fold in addition to a return of Brooks and his friends and Detective Holt. I think it’s a book that people can enjoy whether or not they’ve read its predecessor. Early readers have described it as gritty, scary, and intense, so I’m hoping that when it finds a wider audience, they will find a similar experience in its pages. I hope to have some more details soon as far as a release date, but I expect it will be in the fall of 2021.

Shawn, thank-you for your time. Is there anything else you’d like folks to know about you, your work, or your research process?

I think we covered most of it, Jotham. Thank you so much for interviewing me. I really enjoyed chatting with you. Hopefully, we can meet in person one of these days and grab a pint!

Awesome! Look forward to it. You can pick up The Tear Collector now and you can follow Shawn across the internet at the links below or signup for his Newsletter at https://t.co/5M3RU7KILM

Tear Collector Available now!

Follow Shawn on Social Media.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Bookbub /
Instagram

Science Quick Hits: June 12th episode

Before I jump in I want to take time to thank everyone who wrote to me or commented on my last episode on the science of cryonics (if you missed it, here is the link: https://mailchi.mp/e762b3f1d4b4/jothams-monthly-newsletter-cryonics). A couple readers wondered why I said cryonics and not cryogenics like you read in books and hear in movies.

Definition time:

Cryogenics is the production and behaviour of materials at very low temperatures

Cryonics is the low temperature-freezing (usually at −196 °C or −320.8 °F or 77.1 K) and storage of a human corpse or severed head, with the speculative hope that resurrection may be possible in the future.

Similar words, but in movies and books cryonics is the term they should be using, but Handwavium need not obey definitions. 

Okay, on to the 24,000 years and sex in space.

Okay, I’m not going to make you wait, let’s talk birds and bees or in this case mice. Remember, a long time ago when I first started this newsletter I explored the ins-and-outs of getting busy in space, or the difficulties (you can reread that episode here). One of the issues was space radiation and what it could do to sperm during space travel. A recent study was just released (check it out here) that in short frozen mouse spermatozoa stored on the Interntional Space Station (ISS) was not affected by space radiation and produced viable and genetically healthy offspring. This is good news for space travelers that one day want to reproduce. 

Next, a story straight out of science fiction, a 24,000 year old organism was revived from frozen Siberian Permafrost. Wasn’t this how The Thing got started—put the flamethrower down MacReady—oh never mind.

This is cool, but this group also discovered and revived a 30,000-year-old nematode worm, Arctic moss and some plants. “Now, the team adds rotifers to the list of organisms with a remarkable ability to survive, seemingly indefinitely, in a state of suspended animation beneath the frozen landscape,” the press release stated. 

Understanding how these multi-cellular organisms can be frozen and revived will be important in future space travel and cryonics (see what I did there).

That’s two quick hits of science. Hope you enjoyed and I’ll try to keep you up to date on the science that dosen’t make the headlines (like morphing pasta noodles or two new species of woolly flying squirrels discovered)

June Update

Where has the time gone? May zipped by and we are smack dab into June. I spent some time getting plants in the garden (tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants) and relaxed a bit and tried a new gin at 18th Street Distillery!

I was interviewed by fellow author Katherine Soto this month, you can read it here: https://buff.ly/3piJ357


        

In writing land, I finished the first draft of the two Novellas that will be published this fall. Also, I got three manuscript requests (two full and a partial) for my novel “The Cost of Us,” a cyberpunk thriller.

As many of you know, my debut novel, “Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?’ was released on February 23rd 2021. Still haven’t read it, go check it out here. Hopefully, with COVID restrictions easing (folks are getting vaccinated which is good) I may be able to do book signings and other fun things, stay tuned for details! I do have books in the wild at Paul Henry’s Art Gallery in Hammond, IN and at the Green Witch Cafe in Highland, IN.

Preorder for ‘Moonlight: A Limited Edition Paranormal Romance Anthology’ is now available here


Yes, I will have a novella in this anthology! The first draft of the novella about Eve who is a werewolf (And yes, I did a science of werewolf episode) looking to protect her pact, but finds love along the way. So, last episode I had a longer working title, but after some though I am leaning to just “Eve” as the title. There is an awesome lineup of authors so click the link and preorder now

And, you read correctly, I said two novellas are being released this fall. The second will be in the Emerging Worlds Anthology. I am doing a post-zombie novella titled, “The Cure”. They promised the Cure would end Zombie and return life to normal, but nobody promised normal would be easy. I’ve wanted to write a zombie story for some time, and looking at post zombie life is fun. I just finished writing this one, but I will have to do a Rabbit Hole of Research on Zombies!!

And don’t worry, there will be a new issue of Rabbit Hole of Research on June 26th, and I’l going to get in the weeds! If you want to read past issues, check them out here

Follow me online, and feel free to Email me with questions, comments, questionable science, or who you’d like to see interviewed.

May Update: What happened to April?

Not much personal news to update you with, so I thought I’d share a photo from a project I was working on at work, modeling limb development in embryos. On the big screen, the green is the nucleus and the blue is the outline of the cell body. On the little screen you can see the all the electron micrograph of the cells that I’m modeling. 

As many of you know, my debut novel, “Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?’ was released on February 23rd 2021. Still haven’t read it, go check it out here. Hopefully, with COVID restrictions easing (folks are getting vaccinated which is good) I may be able to do book signings and other fun things, stay tuned for details! And I’m working on two new Novellas releasing later this year. Check out the cover:


Preorder for ‘Moonlight: A Limited Edition Paranormal Romance Anthology’ is now available here. The first draft of the novella about Eve who is a werewolf (And yes, I did a science of werewolf episode) looking to protect her pact, but finds love along the way—is hot off the keyboard and will let in cool off before I start editing. Working title is “All Your Stars Are But Moonbeams in My Hair.” What do you think about the title? Email and let me know.

And, you read correctly, i said two novellas are being released this fall. The second will be in the Emerging Worlds Anthology. I am doing a post-zombie novella titled, “The Cure”. They promised the Cure would end Zombie and return life to normal, but nobody promised normal would be easy. I’ve wanted to write a zombie story for some time, and looking at post zombie life is fun. I’m about 14K words in (Whoa, I’m half way there…now that song is stuck in your head).

And don’t worry, there will be a new issue of Rabbit Hole of Research on May 29th, and it’s going to be frosty! If you want to read past issues, check them out here!

Follow me online, and feel free to Email me with questions, comments, questionable science, or who you’d like to see interviewed.

September Newsletter: Writing Update

Just here for Jotham’s writing updates, cool. But you are missing out on the Down The Rabbit Hole of Research newsletter delivered to your email inbox once a month where I explore the science in fiction and try to bring some actual factual science to the things we read and see in fiction. Will real accurate science destroy the plot of our favorite fiction? Sign up here

My debut sci-fi psychological thriller, ‘Will you still Love Me, If I become Someone Else?’ I am going over the final edits (last chance for me to make changes) so the Advanced Reading Copies (ARC) can be sent out for early reviews. I still have spots for ARC readers, if you want an advance copy (all I ask in return is a honest review) you know the drill, send me a message and I’ll add you to the list! I’m getting excited. I cannot wait to share this story with you all!

My Rom-Com novella, ‘Tomorrow May Be Too Late, will be released in the Askew Ever After Box-Set, December 21st 2020. The very sexy cover was revealed, and look mom, my name is one the cover!!
You can pre-order at your favorite e-book store here! If you already placed an order, thank-you.

And finally, I am writing a Virus Doomsday novella to be included in a Virus Apocalyptic Anthology boxset. Release April 1st, 2022.

Jotham’s July Monthly Newsletter: The Rabbit Hole of Research

Jotham’s Monthly Newsletter: The Rabbit Hole of Research

Hey y’all, I hope this email finds you safe and well. Thanks for tuning into my Monthly Newsletter: Rabbit Hole of Research. As a laboratory scientist and a cross-genre writer (Sci-fi and Romance), my life is nothing but research. I will explore the science in fiction and try to bring some actual factual science to the things we read and see in fiction. Will real accurate science destroy the plot of our favorite fiction?

So, how did I wind up researching, “Sex in Space”? … read the rest here: The Rabbit Hole of Research

Subscribe here so you don’t miss next months adventure down the Rabbit Hole of Research.