Tea With Kory Shrum

I’ve always wondered about other authors. What do they enjoy? What makes them tick? So not too long ago, I got the idea to reach out to a few authors I admire and see if they would be willing to answer a few questions for us. Thankfully, they’ve been generous with their time. In a perfect world, I would be sitting down having a cup of tea with these talented folks, but with distance and a raging pandemic, email is safer.

I have been a fan of Kory Shrum for a few years now. She’s a brilliant author and a creative soul that is both entertaining and inspiring. She is the author of sixteen novels, including the bestselling Shadows in the Water and Dying for a Living series. She has loved books and words all her life. She reads almost every genre you can think of, but when she writes, she writes science fiction, fantasy, and thrillers, or often something that’s all of the above. This past year she launched a true-crime podcast “Who Killed My Mother?” under the name K.B. Marie, sharing the true story of her mother’s tragic death. You can find it on YouTube. When she’s not eating, reading, writing, or indulging in her true calling as a stay-at-home dog mom, she loves to plan her next adventure. She’s written both paranormal mysteries and now mysteries set in the future, and every book she writes is more gripping and compelling than the last! (Trust me on this, I spent all night reading her last book and got NO sleep, but it was SO worth it!) Pop over to her website and check it out. 

Kory was generous enough to answer a few questions I had for her about writing, comfort food and reading. If paranormal mysteries or science-fiction mysteries are your reading-jam, pop over to her website and check it out!

What do you think the most compelling elements of your current story are? 

Probably the characters. I don’t have clear good guys and bad guys most of the time. They’re just people, with a good mix of virtues and faults, but this makes them seem more real and compelling on the page. I hope the plot isn’t too bad either! 🙂

What is your favourite genre to read?

Oh gosh, I don’t know! It’s like naming a favorite child! I read everything from nonfiction to comics, to fantasy, and mysteries. To really weird stuff like how to lucid dream, which is on my bedside table right now 🙂

If you could give your younger writing-self a piece of advice, what would it be? 

**clears throat** This is going to take a lot longer than you think it will. Getting the first book published is only the start, so settle in. Get comfortable. And start thinking about what stories really matter to you—which ones will you regret not writing if you were to die this year. Focus on those.

Who are the authors who have made a difference in your life?

If not my life, certainly my writing… For fiction: Ruth Ozeki, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Robert Galbraith, Anne Rice, Laurell K. Hamilton, Neil Gaiman and many others.  I also owe a debt of gratitude to the poets Mary Oliver, Maya Angelou, Wislawa Szymborska and Lucille Clifton and more. And to the meditation/dharma books of Pema Chodron as well.

What occupies your time when you’re not writing? 

Right now, it’s producing my podcast! For every 20-25 minute episode, it’s about thirteen hours of work. I also like to read, paint, play piano, study French, travel – though none of us are doing much of that at the moment.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Just two. 🙂 A werewolf novel and a novel about an 18-year-old demon-hunting witch.

What is your go-to comfort food?  

Macaroni and cheese. I also like a good hot tea.

What was the hardest scene you’ve ever written?

Well, the one that comes to mind, probably because I wrote it not that long ago, is from Episode 8 of my “Who Killed My Mother” podcast? In it, I was recounting a traumatic story of a doctor’s visit I had when I was six or seven, and it triggered some pretty intense emotions for me.

How do you choose the names of your characters? 

Usually they come to me along with the character, but then I check them using a baby name book online to make sure the meaning of the name matches the character.

 What challenges you the most about writing?

Showing up, honestly. I’ve published sixteen books and I can attest it hasn’t gotten any easier with time! But it’s important to show up and put words on the page every day, so I’m certainly trying my best.

Anything else you’d like us to know?  

I love interviews! This was fun. Thanks for having me! 🙂

Thank YOU, Kory!

What Comes Around

I adore all of the Louie Thorne books by Kory Shrum, but I think this one might surpass the first as my favourite in the series. There is tons of character growth along the way, and damn if I haven’t become fond of Jabbers… There is a variety of well-written settings here, some new and some familiar from the other books in this series. As always, the author has placed us so firmly in these settings that we can smell the mustiness of the catacombs and feel the cool lick of water in La Loon.

I thought I knew who the killer in Paris was, but holy crap was I wrong! I love it when a book can surprise me that much. This book, like the others in the series, is re-read worthy. So many times over. There is angst, fear, confusion, new fondness that might be called love, there is loyalty, hope and justice. All the things that make a story relatable and binge-worthy. This one has it all and might just be Kory Shrum’s best yet.

I was so thrilled to be granted an ARC (thank you, Kory!), but I love this series so much, I’ll be buying it.
(We really should support our favourite Indie authors, don’t you think?)

You really need to get the others in the series and read those first. This is not a stand-alone. But if you like supernatural fiction with a cast of kick-ass characters who take no crap, well written stories that will keep you reading all night…this is your series!

Why are you still here? Go get it!

A Woman To Treasure Review

Another hit out of the park for Ali Vali!!

While I could see shades of Cain Casey in Levi, Dr. Montbard certainly carved her own space out in this reader’s mind. She is the kind of person…ahem…character…that I would be proud to number among my friends. Honorable, dedicated, driven, respectful and caring. She has a big heart and it shows.

The author has once again crafted memorable characters that live on long after the book is finished. Ali Vali’s gift is not only transporting us to her world(s) but also populating those places with people that almost seem to breathe and stumble as we do.

This story had everything I hoped for – adventure, love, danger and a mysterious quest.
I hope Levi and Yasmine (and her sister) have even more adventures, because I cannot wait to see what’s next for them.

This heart-warming novel will be available May 1st from the publisher, Bold Strokes Books, and May 11th everywhere else, but I suggest cutting out the middleman and getting it direct from the publisher.

Do You Remember?

Fantasy Bookshelves

What was the first book you recall being read to you?

For me, I think it was “Bread And Jam For Frances”

Do you remember your first read-aloud book? Let me know in the comments below.

Brave To The Verge of Recklessness

F. M Miller

At first glance, it may seem that the West was won by the men who braved the various dangers to make new lives. But eventually, men looked around and realized the new land was lacking. Some men wrote to their families, asking them to find a wife who would come West and join him. Some men wrote to churches, beseeching the clergy to find them a hard-working woman of good morals and strength of character. Other men wrote to “matrimonial journals”, essentially magazines focused only on matchmaking. Both genders would advertise their qualities and describe the potential spouse they sought. More often than not, interested parties would write back and forth to each other briefly before the brave woman left the life she knew and headed West. Sometimes, there would be no letters at all, but a church might put up train fare, tell the young lady who she was to meet and send her on her way. 

(And you thought modern dating had risks!)

These mail order brides would become one of the more commonly known tales of the settlement of the Western United States.

But a lesser-known historical tale were the women who settled and homesteaded alone. Passage of the Homestead Act of 1862 allowed any twenty-one-year-old head of household the right to homestead federal land. Single, widowed, and divorced women fit this description, and many crossed the country to file homestead claims of 160 acres. Some men took issue with this and tried to force the women to give up their land and go back to what the men thought were “respectable lives for women”. Any woman just trying to make a life for herself faced even more danger beyond simple daily life. 

Some women threw conventional expectations to the winds and did as they pleased. Some became small business owners who ran laundry services or tailor shops. There were even a few notable women who upheld the laws, such as F.M. Miller, appointed as a U.S. Deputy Marshal in Paris, Texas in 1891. She was so remarkable that she was mentioned several times in newspapers as she assisted in the capture or transport of an outlaw. The Fort Smith Elevator (newspaper) on November 6, 1891 described her as, “a dashing brunette of charming manners…The woman carries a pistol buckled around her and has a Winchester strapped to her saddle. She is an expert shot and a superb horsewoman, and brave to the verge of recklessness…”

A young woman named Ada Curnutt made her mark on history back in 1893 when she single-handedly and fearlessly arrested two felons, named Reagan and Dolezal. The story goes that she found work as a District Court clerk and as a Deputy Marshal to U.S. Marshal William Grimes. Considering she was 20 at the time, this was a significant event. In March of 1893, she received a telegram from Grimes, instructing her to send a deputy to arrest Reagan and Dolezal for forgery. All the deputies were out in the field, so Curnutt took it upon herself to do the job. She took a train to Oklahoma City, asked around about the men and soon learned they were in a saloon. Respectable women would have never set foot inside a saloon, so she asked a man to go in and tell Reagan and Dolezal a lady wanted to see them outside.

When they came out of the saloon, Curnutt told them they were under arrest and read the warrants to them. Thinking the whole affair was a joke, the two men allowed her to put them in handcuffs, laughing the entire time. They soon realized it was no joke. She escorted them to the train station and sent a telegraph to the marshal’s office in Guthrie to inform them she was bringing in the felons. The men were tried and convicted of forgery not long after. 

It’s a shame we don’t hear more about the women who tamed the West alongside men. Many members of the “fairer sex” were tough, resilient, determined and committed to making lives for themselves in an unforgiving land.

Do you have a remarkable woman in your family tree? Tell us about her in the comments section below.

An Honour And Big Shoes

Once in a lifetime, some folks are lucky enough to be the recipient of a life-altering gift. As far as I know, I’ve never been able to count myself among them.

Until this week.

Back in late autumn of last year (2020), I joined the Golden Crown Literary Society, a leading literary organization for editors, publishers, readers, writers, and friends/supporters who celebrate books about women loving women. A couple of months later, I applied to their writing academy. I was tickled pink when I got an acceptance letter! Their writing academy has educated, bouyed, supported and kick-started the careers of many authors. But as with quality education in anything we’re passionate about, it wasn’t free. They offer payment plans, so I wasn’t worried. Too much.

Just a couple of days ago, I was thrilled beyond words (which is saying a lot!) to find out that I’d been chosen to receive the very first Erica Abbott Mystery Scholarship! Erica Abbott was beloved and cherished by the lesfic community and when she passed away, she left a void that can never be filled. She was a friend to many and an accomplished and gifted writer as well. It is an unfathomable honour to be the first recipient of a scholarship in her name.

I have very large shoes to fill.

The Golden Crown Literary Society has apparently seen merit and potential in my writing, and it’s a mind-blowing opportunity to be accepted into the writing academy. I have a responsibility not to waste this moment…this gift. At the same time, I am reminded of the power the written word can have. Empires have been crumbled, or fortified with words. Swaths of wilderness and the animals that live in them have been saved or brought to ruin with a written word. The environment, and we ourselves can be saved with a series of words.

The pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

Tell me about a gift you recieved that changed your life, or the way you viewed something.

HIstory Meets Modern Day

There’s a lot to be said for experimentation in writing. Especially if it’s a genre a writer hasn’t tried before. The writer can try new points of view, new tropes or maybe new settings. Sometimes, writing in a genre they’ve not written in before can reveal new aspects of the person behind the keyboard.

Once upon a time (I promise this isn’t a fairy tale) I would have said I avoided romance books like the plague. Except, over time, I haven’t been. I read and review quite a few #wlw (women-loving-women) romance novels, mysteries and literary fiction books. I’ve also been reading a number of “straight” Western romances, particularly those set in the late 1800s. I seem to have developed a fondness for them, actually. There’s something intriguing about a woman setting off to make a life for herself, and marry a man she’s only ever written to and yet never seen. Talk about an adventure with a big helping of risk! What if the gent had misrepresented himself, or the woman had and her new man no longer wanted her? Or if they hit it off, what if she was woefully unprepared for the amount of work involved in homesteading? Anything could happen…wildfire, flood, a failed crop could lead to famine, their stock could die…

Life on the frontier was tough!

But all the while I’ve been reading these tales of risk, bravery and eventual love, an idea had been growing in the back of my mind. I could write one of these but put it in a place I know.

Northern Ontario.

There aren’t as many historical records that tell us about matrimonial situations in the bush as there are for life on the prairie, but that’s where imagination comes in.

I know how winters are up here. I know how fierce hungry, wild animals can be. I know how a wolf howl can send shivers down a spine.

So, to that end, one of the pieces of fiction I’ll be working on over the next few months is a historical romance novel. The story of how Clara Livingston and Josiah Hunter make a life for themselves in the Canadian woods in 1860.

I’ll share behind-the-scenes glimpses and excerpts if you like, as well as tidbits of research. Let me know if this sounds like something you’d be interested in.

I do hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Still Life In Ice

Good morning!

You might remember that I have a German Shepherd whose greatest pleasure is his morning walks. Now that the air isn’t frigid, I keep my eyes open for interesting photo opportunities, especially while the sun is still coming up.

This morning, this little tree, still coated in frost from last night, presented itself, back-lit by the rising sun.

Beauty is all around us. All we have to do is pay attention.

What do you find eye-catching where you live?

I Am Chris~A Review

I’ve been a big fan of R. Kent since their debut book The Mail Order Bride

This book is a little different though.

This tale is set in current times and focuses on the battle Chris wages to both be true to themselves, and win money in bull riding at local rodeos. But the town is run and controlled by a corrupt, cruel bastard with a badge who has warped reasons for being who he is. In his mind, anyway. He is enabled and assisted by both the local social services worker and the person in charge of the boy’s home. So Chris has to survive everything those adults throw at him, as well as make a name for himself in the competitive and bone-breaking sport of bull riding, and navigate new friendships and a growing attraction to one of those friends. Whew, that’s a lot!

Chris is an honourable young man born into a body he doesn’t feel reflects who he truly is, and yet manages to rise above his circumstances. He has a big heart that he, unfortunately, wears on his sleeve. He’s a true survivor that lets love lead him, no matter the crappy world he’s been dragged into. The secondary characters all breathe true as well. Every one of them have secrets and motivations that have affected their little town in ways we don’t see until close to the end of the book.

The pacing of the story is great, and the world R. Kent has created, the characters that populate the small town and the hurdles that threaten to keep Chris from the life he wants…all of it kept me reading far past bedtime.
The book is well-peppered with true human strength, bravery from even the most unlikely characters, fear, uncertainty and the capacity to reach for dreams that shouldn’t exist. The closing chapters will have you cheering for more than just Chris.

I Am Chris is one of my favourite books. It is the story of courage, redemption and hope, and there’s a lot to love here.
Read it for the people you’ll meet in the book’s pages. Read it to be uplifted and shown what courage can achieve.
Just read it. Get a copy from the publisher Bold Strokes Books. You won’t regret it!

#transvisibilityday