Thursday, July 10, 2014

Interview: Brenda Cothern

Hey everyone,

Brenda Cothern was the first reviewer for my first book Clipped. She's been so supportive and helpful in my writing journey, so I wanted to make sure to help her with the promotion of her new book, Guns & Hoses, which is currently in the top ten of Amazon Best Sellers in Gay Fiction and Gay Romance. The book also reached #2 on ARe's Best Sellers list. That said, I hope you'll all give Brenda and her new book a warm welcome.

Guns & Hoses


Tigger Flint and Thomas Flame shared an instant mutual hate for one another from the day they met in sixth grade. Their dislike grew into competition and rivalry throughout high school as they were stuck in the same honors classes and played the same sports. That hatred and rivalry followed them into adulthood as one became a cop and the other a fireman.

Sharing the same haunt, Guns & Hoses, gave everyone from both departments plenty of opportunity to witness their personal war. Being forced back onto the football field for charity gave both men another venue for their hatred and rivalry to make an appearance.

But those feelings weren't the only emotions in attendance and the winner of game could just be both of them.

Here's where you can buy it:

Interview with Brenda Cothern
New Release: Guns and Hoses
What first drew you to writing?

Actually, I am not like most other authors. It wasn’t until the economy tanked and I became one of many unemployed executives that I changed careers at my husband’s urging. I had a story on my computer that was roughly four chapters, around 25k words, and my husband encouraged me to finish it and publish it. So, I did and six months later it was.

What kinds of books do you like writing and why?

I like it when I have characters whose stories involve an inner struggle about what they feel. Usually they are about coming to terms with who they are or along the lines of enemies/friends to lovers. I think these stories allow the opportunity for the emotional depth of a character to shine through and give readers something they can relate to. Real life is messy and never easy.

At what point in your writing career did you start considering yourself a professional writer?

I think it was the moment when I decided to attend a convention as an author to sell my books and speak on writing panels, somewhere around book 5 that I had published. Of course, it was long before that I was already treating my new career as a business. Since I have two bachelor degrees (in business management and marketing), I was already ahead of the game when it came to self-publishing.

I saw on Goodreads that Fates (The Goddess of Fate #1) is listed as your first published work. Can you tell us how that played an important role in your publishing career?

Ahh yes. This is the book I mentioned earlier that my hubby encouraged me to finish. This book was pivotal in turning me from a writer to an author. Fates started out as my Dungeons & Dragons character, Zarkina, story. She has been my constant character for the last 35 years and it was her story that I had started and re-tweeked the first 25k words a killzillon times. It seemed like once I gave her permission to tell me her tale fulltime, I couldn’t get the words on paper fast enough. I was spending 16-18 hours a day writing and within 4 months, her 140k story was finished. Well, almost finished. Roughly 30k had to be chopped off and moved to start a second book (Destiny) to actually finish her story. Destiny is still a work in progress (currently around 65k and will end around the same size as Fates.)

The largest role Fates played for me was that it opened the floodgate in my mind for other characters to make themselves known. For the longest time, only Zarkina’s voice spoke to me but once I got the majority of her story out, it was like an open party in my head. Characters introduced themselves and fought for my attention. The loudest voices won and now have their own stories! Because of this, Zarkina has gone quiet for a while but I am sure she will speak up eventually so I can finish her story in Destiny.

What led you to writing stories with gay main characters?

I never intended to end up writing gay characters. I thought I was going to be a fantasy author so I have to blame Nick and Jordy. They were characters that made an appearance in Kira and Alec’s story, Soul Stealer (Shadows #1), this is now available for free on my website). They were best friends but toward the end of writing Soul Stealer they stated showing me they were meant to be more than that. It was weird, really, since they were both straight. Again, after getting their story out of my head, it was like waving a rainbow flag and the floodgate of voices became mostly gay men wanting me to tell their tale.
In hindsight, it really isn’t surprising to me (or anyone who knows me) that I write male/male novels. I can count on one hand how many straight associates I have. Everyone else I know is gay and I have been an activist in my local community for so long, that friends argue that I really am a gay man. It’s a huge compliment!

You're a true indie machine. What does that entail? And what do you enjoy most about the publishing process?

A true ‘indie machine,’ huh? I don’t think anyone has every referred to me in that manner before, thanks! Indie / self-pub is hard and takes A LOT of work. An author has to do EVERYTHING themselves or have the money to farm out some of the work (like editing & cover layout.) Being published is a business and that business takes up about 2/3’s of my time.

At a recent convention, an audience member asked us (a panel of self-pub authors) what our average monthly income from Amazon was as self-published authors and I was surprised at how little some of my colleagues were making. Answers ranged from $10 to $75 a month and I don’t think I kept the shock off my face. I make much more than that on a monthly basis from Amazon. I’m not getting rich by any means but I can’t remember the last time I didn’t make at least $150-$200 a month (I think my largest monthly Amazon royalty was around $1900 when Not for Sale made the best sellers list.)
All that being said, I enjoy the business side of self-publishing the most when it comes to the process. I think this stems from having two degrees that are business related and being an executive at a marketing company for six years.

On that same note, what's your favorite part of the writing process?

The actual writing itself. Aside from the fact that it quiets the voices in my head for a bit, I enjoy sitting down with a pitcher of beer (yep, I write all my books in a bar and call it my Hemingway style), a few legal pads, and a handful of pens. I just let the words flow and usually 7-8 hours later (and two pitchers of beer) I have around 7k written. People are always amazed that I spend that much time in one sitting in the bar writing. But in reality, most people work an 8 hour day and I am only doing this once a week, so it’s really not so bad *grin*.

What part of your writing do you notice resonates most with your fans?

The characters and how real they seem. Even in my paranormal series, Shadows, the characters are people you could know in your everyday life. They all have their quirks and insecurities. Nothing is ever cut and dry in life and even though what I write is fiction, I don’t think it should be in a story either. Not all stories are HEA’s (Happily Every After’s) and sometimes this upsets fans. But I have no control over this, believe it out not! I tell my fans all the time, ‘I don’t make this shit up; I just write what my characters show me.’ And yes, I realize I should probably be on (more) meds but thankfully my shrink doesn’t think so!

How do you like your sex in books you read and write, and why do you like it that way?

In the books I read, it varies. Sometimes I like reading hard, rough, and kinky. Other times, I want slow, sensual, and sweet. It really depends on what I am in the mood for but regardless of the ‘how,’ the sex should pertain to the plot. I tend to be a bit more critical of gratuitous sex just thrown in for no other reason than to boost word count. The best advice I was ever given when I started writing erotic romance was: “If you can remove the sex scene without it changing your plot, than you don’t need it in the first place.” I try to adhere to this when I write. When I write sex scenes, I also try to make them as realistic as possible. Reading that spit, blood, and water are used for lube makes me cringe because it is clear the author has never tried having anal using these as lube. Now, if the author includes the pain factor when these types of things are used as lube, that’s a different story, because anyone who’s done that knows it hurts like a bitch! Another thing that annoys me is the ‘washcloth syndrome.’ I know plenty of gay men (and women) who don’t dash off to the bathroom for cleanup after sex! But, I digress…if we start getting into my pet peeves about the unrealistic mechanics of gay sex in fiction, we could go on forever!

Tell us a little about your new release, Guns & Hoses...

Guns & Hoses hit me out of the blue while I was taking a shower. I was already almost 9k into writing Extraction (Mad Dogs #3), when Tig and Flame roughly pushed the Delta boys out of the way and took over my mind. Needless to say, I couldn’t get out of the shower fast enough to get them on paper. The story is a enemies to lovers with a HFN (Happy For Now) ending. Tigger Flint is a Tampa cop and Thomas Flame works for Tampa Fire Rescue. The title comes from a bar idea I had twenty-five years ago when I was a stripper. Guns & Hoses caters to local police and fireman and is filled with memorabilia from both. If I had the money, it would become a reality. They again, so would my nightclub Shadows!

Anything else you want to share?

Humm… Let’s see…. I love to hear from readers. I am always looking for serious beta team members. I frequently trade books in exchange for honest reviews. I read 3+ novels a week and love doing book swaps with other authors. Conventions are my favorite way to market because they allow me to meet so many cool people. I can be found on all the social networks and my books are in almost all online outlets.

Recently, I have been asked to help organize RainbowCon 2015. I am on the board for Florida Leather n’ Fetish Pride as well as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. I am an associate member of the Tampa Leather Club and soon to be a supporting member of the Union Tampa (another leather club.) I have been in the leather and BDSM lifestyle for 17 years and happy share what I have learned on my journey thus far (especially with authors who wish to write about this lifestyle!!) And, in that vein, I have plans to start my own publishing company, Tied & Tethered Publishing, sometime over the next 6-9 months. I think that is about it (as if that wasn’t enough!!)

Thank you so much for having me here today, Devon!!

Thanks for coming on the blog today! For those of you who want to follow Brenda, you can find her on: