Author Q&A: SJ Himes + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Please welcome SJ Himes to The Blogger Girls!

Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing and what made you start writing?

I have been writing for most of my life, but doing so on a professional basis for the last three years. I love to read, I adore books and storytellers and I can get lost in a fictional world so easily. I made no conscious decision to start writing; I just did, needing a way to expense the daydreams and fantasies that lived in my head. Looking back at my younger years, I was living proof of my favorite saying for authors: Write what you want to read. I started writing and then publishing because I was at the point in my life when my day job was killing my soul, making me a bitter person, and my dreams were nothing but dust. So, I made the choice to try. I took that leap, and I have not regretted it since.

What book of yours would you recommend a new-to-you-reader to start with?

Depends on what the person in question likes. For urban fantasy, The Necromancer’s Dance. Angel is the main character, with a sharp wit and a big heart scarred by tragedy. Vampire, fae, demons, and the supernatural world living side by side with humanity. A werewolf with a smartphone, etc.
For someone fond of shifters, I would suggest my Wolfkin Saga, starting with Wolves of Black Pine. It is aptly named; the books are long, complicated, with ensemble casts supporting the main characters. It remains one of the hardest series I have ever written.
For sweeping, fantasy romance, I would suggest this new book, The Solstice Prince. It is entirely epic fantasy with a main Love Story.  I have an mpreg series, Bred For Love, written as my nom de plume of Revella Hawthorne. That too has princes, and it set in an alternate reality of Earth, slightly futuristic.  

What makes you want to write in the genres you write in?

Easiest question I’ve ever gotten! Simple: I write what I want to read. I write what I love. I don’t write to market or to the expectations of others. My books are solely for myself, and when I know they’re ready, I set them out into the wider world for other people to love them too. I am a huge scifi, fantasy, and paranormal reader, and very few books I read are contemporary. I write and read to escape this world we live in, so writing stories in this world is harder for me. The less grounded in reality a book is, the easier it is to write.

How many half-finished books do you currently have? Or do you prefer to finish one before you start another?

I actually write in a system I call clusters. What is a writing cluster, you may ask?
A writing cluster is a collection of WIPs (Work in Progress, aka manuscripts, titles, etc) that I work on, with no discernible preference or priority. I have learned in the last year, while working through RL and personal issues, that putting pressure on myself makes me shut down. I stop writing. No pressure means more words down on paper.

So, I write in clusters. Between 2-5 titles that I consistently (or not) work on every day or week. To avoid burnout, I’ll jump between titles and add a bit there, here, some little bits or whole word dumps.

Whichever WIP is getting closer to being done is usually the book I focus in on the most and stick with until it is done. Then I switch to the remaining WIPs in the cluster, and repeat the process until another book is done. And so forth. It has been a success so far and saw me finish and release two books in six months.

I have a To Write List a mile long. Working on them a handful at a time may be slower, but each book is seeing steady progress, and once a cluster book is done, I add in a title from the To Write List. To answer your question, I have right now 4 books in the cluster that are all hovering between just started to nearly done, and a list of To Write Books at about 27 titles.

And some fun questions! What would you consider your spirit animal to be?

Two answers to this one. A dragon and a red fox. The dragon to represent my love of the fantastical and my fondness for factual knowledge. The red fox because of its shyness, the quiet way it moves through life, but also for its absolutely frightening ability to go from shy woodland creature to dangerous, formidable hunter with seamless ease. Foxes have evolved in the ultimate survivalist.

Boxers, briefs or boxer-briefs….for your characters!

Most of them either go commando, or wear boxer-briefs. I say only about 25% of them wear any underwear at all.

What was the last thing you googled?

This one is making me laugh. The last thing I googled was “Wow Addon for Rare Hunter Pets NPCscan overlay.”

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About The Solstice Prince

Rescued from slavers, healer novice Jaime Buchanan finds himself alone and free in Pyrderi, a kingdom of magic, mythical creatures, and a culture as open and kind as his homeland was cruel and close-minded.

Despite his rescue, Jaime is not left without scars, both mental and physical. Traumatized by his experience and hiding his gift, Jaime struggles to earn his place in the kitchens of Angharad Palace, the heart of Taliesin City. His former life as a student of the healing arts leaves him at a disadvantage in the kitchens, and his damaged state is becoming more apparent by the day.

One day, when necessity and fate intervene, Jaime meets someone unexpected—Prince Maxim, youngest son of the Pyrderian king, a sword master and a devastatingly kind man. Unaccustomed to powerful people with compassion and heart, Jaime flees. A cascade of events reveals Jaime’s hidden talents of healing, and he finds himself not in chains, but at the beginning of a new life.

This swift change of fortune opens Jaime up to new possibilities, including a smitten prince who cautiously courts Jaime, easing him away from his fears and reminding him that compassion and love can make him strong. The winter solstice is quickly approaching, and Prince Maxim shows Jaime the enjoyment and excitement to be found in a land that embraces the ice and cold, and the mysteries of all things magical. He learns to see the man under the royal mantle, and Maxim is more than even Jaime suspected.

The winter solstice is nigh when tragedy strikes, and Jaime learns that his past of grief and sorrow can be a pillar of strength for his solstice prince. If there is one thing that Jaime believes above all else, it is in the healing power of love.

Available at: Amazon

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An Excerpt from The Solstice Prince

At some prearranged signal, the crowd began to quiet, faces turned towards the canopy where the royals sat. Janis stood and moved to the rail, lifting a hand to the crowd. The people cheered, clapping and shouting the crown prince’s name. Prince Janis was popular with the people if he garnered that kind of reaction— this was not the forced greeting given to a leader that was feared or despised. Jaime still did not know who the king was of Pyrderi, but the future King was well-liked, perhaps even loved.

The people quieted and Janis shouted, his words echoing through the cloud air. “Greetings citizens of Taliesin City! On behalf of the royal family and my father, the king, I welcome you to the first official day of the Solstice Festival! Today is cold and the wind is sharp, so I’ll not waste any time! Would the priests please light the solstice fire, and let the festivities begin!”

The crowd roared in approval and there was a burst of smoke across the square. Two men and a woman dressed in gray robes were standing at the base of a large metal structure about the height of a tall man. The woman was cradling something in her hands that billowed out dark gray smoke and she tossed it into the weird structure. Bright orange flames promptly rose and the crowd cheered again. The royals clapped in approval and Jaime hurriedly copied their example, though he had little idea of what was going on.

Maxim leaned down and spoke in his ear. “The priestess is a Magi and she lit the torch with her magic. The torch represents how life endures even in the depths of winter. The winter solstice is in a few days with the festival ending with the grand ball at the palace. The winter festival here in Taliesin City draws in celebrants from around the country and even from some of the islands in the Straits.”

Jaime blushed when Maxim pulled back and gave him a swift wink and a charming grin. “Janis needs to stay and let the people see him for a while, but the twins are about to escape the cold and we have a tour to finish. The first day of the festival is just the opening ceremony since a lot of people are still arriving. Do you want to stay or would you like to finish the tour?”

“The tour sounds like fun, if you’re sure we won’t be missed.” Any time alone with Maxim was worth the icy chill.

“You two should escape while you can,” Janis said, having overheard Maxim. “I’ll be here until the cold gets too much, talking to courtiers and the like.” The crown prince stood over Jaime who blinked back up at him in surprise. For such a large man, he moved with surprising subtlety. Janis motioned to the lower levels of the stands, and the courtiers below were indeed standing and heading for the stairs that led to the royals’ box. “Unless you want to stay and get fawned over by the masses, Maxim?”

“I’ll save that for you, dear brother. Enjoy your day, and welcome home.” Maxim helped Jaime to his feet. Jaime was at a loss for how to respectfully say goodbye to the crown prince, but Maxim solved this by tugging him away with a casual wave to his brother and the twins, who hardly paid them any heed, tossing back small waves of their own before they went back to talking. Janis grinned at them both and tipped his head towards the stairs.

Maxim took hold of Jaime’s hand and took off for the stairs. They hurried downward until they came back to where the sleigh had dropped them off originally. There was a sleigh waiting for them pulled by the same strange creature Maxim called an oryx. Maxim helped Jaime up into the carriage and jumped in behind him. The driver snapped his whip, and the sleigh jerked into motion.

Their visit to the festival might have been quick, but Jaime didn’t mind. The way Maxim held his hand, tight and firm, like he never wanted to let go, filled Jaime with warmth and a slow burn under his skin, heating his cheeks in the chilly air. The prospect of spending the next few hours in Maxim’s company was incomparable to anything he’d experienced in his short life. Not better than the day he was freed from the slavers, but it was close.

Falling in love felt like learning how to live again.

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About SJ Himes

I’m a self-employed writer who stresses out about the silliest things, like whether or not I got my dog the best kind of snack and the fact my kindle battery tends to die when I’m at the best part in a book. I write mainly gay romance, erotica, and urban fantasy, with occasional forays into contemporary and paranormal. I love a book heavy on plot and character evolution, and throw in some magic, and that’s perfection. My current series are: The Beacon Hill Sorcerer, Bred For Love (as Revella Hawthorne), The Wolfkin Saga, and the epic fantasy romance series Realms of Love. My last two novels in the Beacon Hill Sorcerer won 3rd Place in the Gay Fantasy category for the 2016 Rainbow Awards.

I live in New Orleans, where the personalities are big and loud and so are the bugs! New Orleans is rich in cultural history, and the flavor and music of the City is impossible to hide. Before that, I lived all over the United States: Tampa, Western Massachusetts, Indianapolis, and on and on…. I’m a nomad, and I’ve yet to find a place that calls to me strongly enough to become home. My faithful travel companions are my dog Micah, the numerous voices in my head who insist they all get put on paper, and the wind at my back.

Find out more about SJ on her Website or Facebook.

Blog_Tour_Giveaway

As part of this blog tour, SJ is giving away an ebook of The Solstice Prince to 4 winners sent via Instafreebie!! To enter, just click the link below!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway unless otherwise stated but are still welcome anyway.

Don’t forget to check out Nikyta’s review of The Solstice Prince to see what she thought of it!

Good luck!

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Categories: Author Q&A, Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, LGBT | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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