Off the Beaten Path – blog tour day 5, Debra R Johnson is in the hot seat

IMG430highbwToday I’m pleased to welcome a new friend to the blog, Debra R Johnson, one of my Off the Beaten Path fellow contributors. Debra’s story, ‘To Darkness I Fall’ is a ‘different spin on seething romance…. a darker, bloodier tale’.

Debra answered a few questions about her story and her other current writing projects, so it’s over to Debra…

What other works do you have available?

Currently, my only other book out right now is the first installment  of The Phoenix Curse: After – Part One. You can download it for free on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble,  and a few other sites as well.

Here is the link to Amazon.

What other projects or events do you have coming up?

I am releasing After – Part Two later this month. Very  exciting for me. I actually pushed back the release date a couple weeks  due to the release of OTBP so I could fully dedicate myself to promoting  both books without crossing my wires.

What was your inspiration  for ‘To Darkness I Fall’?

‘To Darkness I Fall’, was not premeditated  at all. I had a vivid dream one Friday night, woke up Saturday morning  and started writing it down. I do this a lot with my dreams – get down  a sketch so I can have a story prompt for later – but Darkness became a full story that weekend.  I just couldn’t let it go.

Also, the main character got her name because my husband was playing  the latest Tomb Raider that weekend, and I kept hearing that name over  and over. It stuck!

Why do  you write? Do you have any encouraging words for other indies?

I have always had a very active imagination and have been able to  weave a story quite quickly out of nothing at all. When I was young,  I thought I wanted to be a writer someday, but I never received much  support from my friends and family, so the dream was intangible.

Then, years later, my daughter started writing. I supported her and  decided to start editing her work and, in doing so, it revived something  inside me. The indie author boom had just happened, so I started doing  some internet searches and stumbled across NaNoWriMo.

50k words in one month? Me? I took me a decade to write 20k on one  story. There’s no way I could possibly accomplish 50k in one month!

But it was still mid-October when all that was going through my mind,  so I pulled out an old file, dusted it off and got to writing. It was  a short story I had started nearly 20 years ago and it only had 5k words.  Within those last 2 weeks of October, I finished the story at a little  over 20k. Not the longest story ever, but it was just a test to see  if I could do it. And I passed.

When I wrote the final words to that story, I actually cried. Now,  looking back, it seems like such a little thing, but it was life-changing  at the time. That happened one year ago this October.

I entered NaNoWriMo the following month and also won that with 5 whole  days to spare. Not only that, but I actually finished that book I started  then and it became my first published novel.

So much has changed in this past year; the way I look at things and  what I can accomplish if I put my mind to it. I’m hoping this is just  the tip of the iceberg and I can’t wait to see where I’m at next  year in my budding writing career!

My advice to fellow indies and NaNoWriMos, don’t give up! Just keep  writing. You owe the story that much. Also, not to scare anyone, but  writing is the easy part. It’s the editing that’s  the bitch!

Find Debra at these places:



The Pheonix Curse website





Off the Beaten Path Blog tour day 2

Urban Fantasy Author Angela Roquet lives in Sedalia, Missouri, with her husband and son. When she’s not swearing at the keyboard, she enjoys painting, goofing off with her family and friends, and reading books that raise eyebrows. Visit Angela’s official website at www.angelaroquet.comangela1

Angela Roquet, my fellow contributor, is the author of the story ‘Dearly Departed’, a fascinating, imaginative  and humorous take on the afterlife that features in Off the Beaten Path. She has also penned the critically acclaimed Lana Harvey, Reapers Inc series of novels and has just released her first YA book, Crazy Ex-Ghoulfriend .

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You can find Angela across the interweb:




And don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win great prizes, including  copies of Off the Beaten Path and Amazon gift cards!

Five TV boyfriends

Since Victoria from Victoria Loves Books did her fantastic book boyfriend feature (and you can see my choices here) it got me thinking about other characters that I’ve fallen for on TV and film, because as much as I love books, I’m all about TV too. I’m the sort of person who tends to fancy an actor in a particular role, rather than the actor themselves (there are one or two notable exceptions, Colin Morgan I’m looking at you…) but generally that does seem to be the case. So it must be the character they’re playing that is the biggest factor in the attraction. I’ve only listed five here, because we have actual lives and I could be here for a lot longer. I’ve resisted the urge to list Father Dougal Maguire (don’t ask) and Vince Noir (purely because I think he just is Noel Fielding) but if you think those are weird choices, spare a thought for one of my best friends who had a crush on Edward Woodward in The Equaliser. After that particular revelation, it’s a miracle the friendship survived at all.

merlin betterMerlin (Merlin 2008 – 2012 played by Colin Morgan)

Where do I start? From episode one when he walked into Camelot, wide-eyed but full of hope (and incredible cheekbones) I was sold. He still remains my all-time favourite and I can’t imagine anyone coming close. Why do I love him so? Because he’s quietly brave, intelligent, does what he believes is right, even when he’s misguided, is willing to sacrifice himself time and time again, not just for Arthur, but for others too, he’s just a little bit nerdy… oh yeah, and that really hot thing he does when he gets all manly and COMMANDS DRAGONS…

Connor Temple (Primeval 2007 – 2011 Played by Andrew-Lee Potts) connor

I adore Connor. Every time he’s on the screen I just want to squeeze the life out of him. He’s such a geek, but he’s really brave and incredibly clever. Just the way he spouts stuff about dinosaurs and sci-fi techy stuff makes me go all weak at the knees. And his massive crush on kick-ass Abby is just so cute that you’re just shouting at the telly ‘kiss her for god’s sake!’ It helps that he’s pretty darned attractive too, and he just gets better as the series go on; when it got to series five, he was a bona fide hottie.


Casanova (Casanova 2005 played by David Tennant

The first thing I really remember David Tennant in and I totally fell for him. I didn’t know the story of Casanova, particularly, other than the famous reputation for womanising. His Casanova was a quick, clever, cheeky chappie, starting out with optimism and a thirst for adventure. He justified his womanising reputation in a way that, far from being sleazy, made you understand his addiction and feel so sorry for him that you could forgive it. His devotion to a woman that he could never have was heartbreaking and every time he got close to happiness elsewhere, fate snatched it from him. It was no wonder he turned so bitter. DT shared the role with Peter O’Toole, who played him as an older man, and those closing scenes flitting between the two of them… I wasn’t sure my heart would ever mend.

Jeff Randall (Randall and Hopkirk Deceased 2000 – 2001 played by Bob Mortimer)randall

Yep, this is a weird one. Maybe only Bob Mortimer’s wife can call him a bona fide hottie, but I just loved him in this. I think it was just that he was so hapless but so sweet, and the adorable loyalty to his dead mate, and the equally adorable devotion to Jeanie, who he was quite clearly head-over-heels in love with but who had been almost married to said dead mate and so was morally slightly out-of-bounds. He was just the cutest thing and I was sold, bald patch, dodgy trousers and all.

ecclestoneThe Doctor (Doctor Who, like, forever… played by Paul McGann, Christopher Ecclestone, David Tennant, Matt Smith)

I don’t know where to start with this man! How can it be that vastly different actors have all played him in vastly different ways and yet all have managed to elicit feverish crushes in me? It must be something deeply fundamental to the Doctor’s character that pulls me in, but what it is is anyone’s guess. But from the TV movie (awful, but a fabulous Doctor) to its subsequent return to our screens, I’ve developed an unhealthy interest in every single one. There’s McGann (foppish and vulnerable), Ecclestone (damaged and angry), Tennant (cute and cocky) and Smith (weird and… nope, just weird). Maybe it just demonstrates the old adage that ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’. Or is that a song from The Mighty Boosh? Now then, back to Vince Noir…

Oh no! I forgot Sam Tyler from Life on Mars! And Sam from Quantum Leap! And Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer! I’ll just have to do another feature. What a crying shame…

My Deserted Island Feature by Sharon Sant


Today I have left Sharon stranded on a island, I feel like a Bond villain *strokes white cat* (so what if it’s stuffed, it’s all for effect!).

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When Victoria mentioned this genius of a feature to me, I immediately turned to my ten and twelve year old daughters for ideas. Together we came up with some great ones, and some not so great ones. Not so great (but we giggled) included Piglet from Winnie the Pooh (to eat), Saphira the dragon from Eragon (to roast Piglet), Hazel from Watership Down (afters for Piglet) Harry Potter (too obvious), Katniss Everdeen (ditto), Jacob Lightfoot from Sky Song (mine…possibly corny), any of the kids from Runners (also mine, but would do a nifty job of fashioning a tent from palm leaves). So, once we had finished laughing and dismissing choices, this is what we came up with…

Captain Nemo (20,000 Leagues under the…

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Who is X? Jack Croxall spills the Beans… Maybe…

When I read Jack’s short story, I was immediately struck not only by how much tension and jeopardy he had managed to weave into small space, but by just how much potential there was to extend X’s world.  So I was very excited when he agreed to answer a few of my questions about the possibilities of that, and also about X herself.

x bordered-page-0X’s story is just one experience of a much larger, clearly cataclysmic event. Are we going to get any more stories from this event? Will we get to find out who picks up X’s journal?

I hope so! If the response and reviews continue to be positive, I’d really like to explore more of X’s world with another, longer book. After all, X essentially takes place in a single room whilst, outside, the entire planet succumbs to chaos. I have a strong idea of what and who the next book would be about, and I already know it would be called Wye. As for who finds X’s journal, I know that too! There is actually a clue hidden somewhere in the ebook …

What first made you think to call her X?

There’s a line very early on, ‘Well, my name is – actually, I think I’ll refer to myself as X.’ When I got to writing that bit, the name X just popped into my head out of nowhere. The reason I kept it is because it feels kind of universal – anyone could call themselves X. That means that readers might just ask themselves, If I was in this situation, what would I do? That’s my ultimate hope for the story, anyway.

I know that you’re working on the second book of the Tethers trilogy. How did you find swapping between projects to complete X?

It wasn’t that bad, if I’m honest! Despite being a fifteen-year-old girl, X has a similar voice and tone to me. That little co-inky-dink meant that there were a lot less grumbles whilst writing X’s thoughts than say, Mr Cauldwell’s dialogue (from Tethers). I really struggle with Mr Cauldwell; he’s far more intelligent and eloquent than I am and so he takes lots of drafts to get right! Perhaps I should just kill him off?!

How conscious was the decision to make the setting for X a rural one? Why not do a 28 Days Later and have it in a city?

X was shacked up in a farmhouse cellar from day one – I had no idea why at first! And farmhouses are typically found in or around rural villages, so that’s just how the story developed. I’m glad that’s what happened though; a lot of books, films and TV shows have done city apocalypse much better than I could.

The response to X’s release was phenomenal, considering that it was quite spontaneous. How did it feel to be outselling Neil Gaiman?

Haha! Outselling one particular book of Mr Gaiman’s for one particular day in one particular chart feels pretty cool. Obviously though, it’s a relatively contrived and circumstantial factoid to draw from X’s opening day performance. I’m much more thankful and happier with the fact that readers seem to like X and have responded to her plight and the story!

A cheeky final one…. What happens to animals if the things outside get them? (You don’t have to answer this if you think it contains spoilers, but you can tell me in secret!)

Just between you, me and you readers, Sharon, all the animals are fine! Whatever happened to create the uglies seems only to have affected humans. Needless to say, my puppy-dog Archie survived the apocalypse completely unharmed!


Born in High Wycombe, Jack Croxall now lives in rural Nottinghamshire with his chocolate Labrador, Archie. He has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Nottingham and currently toils away as a science writer in between working on his books. He tweets via @JackCroxall and blogs at

You can find out more about Jack or where to buy X or Tethers by checking out his site. He also reviews books and films, so why not take a look and find out what he’s discussing today?

Guest post: Being dead isn’t always the end…

L.M. Milford

Last week saw the launch of Sharon Sant’s new young adult novel ‘The Memory Game’. The book tells the tale of 15-year-old David who is still hanging around three weeks after his death, without knowing why. The only person who is aware of him is Bethany, the girl he bullied at school. Sharon is one of the lovely writers I’ve met through Twitter, and she’s here to talk about the difficulties of a protagonist who is already dead.

At the time of writing The Memory Game, it never occurred to me just what I was doing by making my protagonist a dead boy.  The story came to me and I wrote it down without question. It wasn’t until I read a wonderful and insightful review of the book by fellow writer, Jack Croxall, that it hit me.

In his review, Jack comments on the fact that the main character’s…

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Woman Walks into a Bar

Today, I’m giving my blog over to something a little bit different. When I was asked to take part in the promo blitz for Rowan’s new book, I was only too happy to say yes. I think most women have had some experience of abuse, either directly or indirectly, and so if you think that it doesn’t concern you, or will never concern you, then you’re wrong. With that in mind, please support the cause by checking out Rowan’s new book, which will not only help, but will also be a cracking read.

Help  Rowan Coleman raise £10,000 for Refuge

On  September 10th Rowan is publishing her novella Woman Walks into a Bar as an ebook for the first time. And 100% of her proceeds will be donated to Refuge.

Her  goal is to raise £10,000 and you can help. All you have to do is buy a book, or  two, and get your friends to buy one too. You’ll get a funny, romantic and  touching summer read and you’ll be helping women you’ve never even met at  the same time and all for the price of £1.59!


The story behind the story

Every  book Rowan have ever written has meant a lot to her, but with her latest book  ‘Dearest Rose,’  something really special happened when the real world and the fiction she loves  to write collided.  It changed her as a person and a writer,  forever.

She  was getting ready to research her tenth novel, which with the help of her  Facebook readers she decided should pivot around the theme of domestic abuse. It  was a subject she’d touched on briefly once before, when she wrote a short  novella as one of the first Quick Reads called Woman Walks into a Bar,  which to this day remains one of the pieces of work of which she is most  proud.

So  she posted on her Facebook page asking if anyone had any personal experiences of  domestic abuse, and any stories they might share with her in  confidence.

She  was shocked and amazed by the response; there were more than 200 emails waiting  in her inbox the next day. Each story she read was horrific and frightening in  its own way, giving her an insight into the secret lives of many women; lives  that all too often remain hidden. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone – well  educated wealthy women are just as likely to suffer as women from a working  class background – but the one thing all those women had in common was that they  were survivors. After years of being mentally and physically beaten down, they  had managed to find the emotional strength, somehow, to break free and start  again.

Now  Rowan wants to do something that will help other women find that inner courage,  and change their lives.

‘Woman  Walks into a Bar’ is the story of 28-year-old single mother Sam spends her days  working in the local supermarket and her Friday nights out with her friends  letting her hair down at the White Horse. Life hasn’t been easy for Sam and her  daughter, Beth (who always looks on the bright side) but she’s always hoped that  one day she’ll break free from her past and meet The One.

But  after a series of terrible dates with men she’s met through an internet dating  site, that have all been as awful as her daughter’s terrible jokes, she’s  starting to lose heart – until her friends tell her they’ve set her up on a  blind date. Sam’s horrified but finally she agrees to go. After all you never  know when you might meet the man of your dreams; maybe Sam’s happy ending is  just about to begin….

£1.59 Amazon  Kindle UK

So,  come on and join Rowan, and help to #supportafriend on September  10th. Every time you buy or pre-order ‘Woman Walks into a Bar’ you’ll  be entered into a prize draw for fabulous prizes every week, while the  #supportafriend #womanwalks campaign is running. On 10th September,  tweet Rowan photos of you and your friends, tell her your ideas to support a friend, and why  your friends mean so much to you.

You  can be a best friend to someone you have never even met. You can help someone  out there find the support they need to change their lives.

If  you are a blogger or tweeter, spread the word using #supportafriend #womawalks.  If you are a company who could offer a prize to drive book sales and thereby  money for Refuge, please get in touch. If you are a woman in an abusive  relationship, or if you have a friend about whom you are worried, please get in  touch with Refuge and ask for help today.

About  Rowan

Rowan  Coleman grew up in Hertfordshire secretly longing to be a writer despite  battling with dyslexia.  After graduating from university she worked in  bookselling and publishing for seven years before winning Company Magazine Young  Writer of the Year in 2001.  Her first novel ‘Growing  Up Twice’ was  published in 2002.

Rowan  has gone on to write eight novels for women including the bestseller ‘The  Accidental Mother, The Baby Group’ and ‘The  Accidental Wife‘  and eight novels for children and teens including the paranormal adventure  novels Nearly Departed and Immortal Remains under the name Rook Hasting. Her  books are published around the world. She now lives in Hertfordshire with her  family.

Woman Walks into a Bar  website

Rowan’s  website

Twitter  @rowancoleman

Rowan’s Facebook Author  Page

Rowan’s Amazon Author  Page

Rowan’s Goodreads Author  Page