#ASI: JD Carabella

Hi JD, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? I’m 40-something, married with one child. I’ve been with my husband for 25 years and we live in the mountains of Maryland. I have 2 dogs, 2 cats and a large aquarium of fish. I’m a nerd and a geek. I love fantasy, sci-fi, comics, tabletop roleplaying and video games. As well as also being a computer programmer and IT Project manager in my day job. I’ve been addicted to books for as long as I remember. I’ve forgotten more books than many people have read. Welcome!

Discuss your newest book. Nocturnal Voyeur started as an idea of how to combine Lovecraft and Traditional Paranormal Romance. Which really should be enough of a warning for folks. The FMC, Fiona, has the power to control the Dream realm, but doesn’t know it. By controlling her, various evil supernatural creatures would be able to use her power. Mack, a Native American Bear Shifter, has traditionally controlled access to the Dream in Chicago, so he has an interest in her as well. But his desire for her isn’t to control her, his goes much further, as he feels they are fated to be together. Because Fiona’s powers were awakened in her sexually by a shadowy otherworldly being, her abilities start out with her being able to see into people’s sexual fantasies and are tied to her own sexual desire. Mack helps her learn how to control the very fabric of dreams, but in the end she has to learn to master it to save Mack’s life. Sounds very good.


Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I’ve always wanted to write, but was afraid to. Some people have inspirational stories of how their teacher mentored them, unfortunately I have the opposite. I was not a good student in school due to boredom. The one class I was excited about in High School was Creative Writing. I’d lived in the Science Fiction and Fantasy section of the library since I was 8. I already had Foundation and Dune under my belt by middle school. I wrote this wonderful story (at least to me) for my first assignment. After the teacher looked at it, she questioned me about words I’d used. As a reader, you know you end up with a rather large vocabulary. She didn’t think I knew the meaning of several of the words and accused me of plagiarism. After I defined all the words for her, I gave her the bird and walked out of class, never to return.

I realize this is somewhat of  the opposite of what you asked, but for me the struggle was overcoming that fear of rejection. When I finally got old enough to decide I’d rather do what I’ve always dreamed of doing instead of being afraid, I finally just started to write. Good for you! I hate when teachers put a student down instead of lifting them up.

What are your current projects? I have two currently. Both are being written as novels and not short stories, so that changes the format a lot for me. Lets me take more time developing characters and plot, and actually less sex.

Dorothy Surrenders is a companion story to Arrested by Passion and Nocturnal Voyeur. In the two previous books we encounter Dorothy. She was Kathleen’s old friend in Arrested and Fiona witnesses something horrible happening to Dorothy in Voyeur. Surrenders starts out nearly a decade before the other two stories and ends at the same time as AP and NV. That arc is set mostly in the 1930s. Dorothy’s story is going to be very dark, she suffers a great tragedy and becomes nearly a slave through part of it. But in the end it is a love story and Dorothy will be rescued.

I’m also working on an untitled Contemporary Urban Fantasy. Though the mythology between the worlds will remain the same. It’s the same universe, just further in time than the 1930s stories. There will still be a love story, the Paranormal plot will be the primary plot. The main character will be a monster hunter named Ash. His partner and eventual love interest will be a supernatural creature he rescues, who turns out to be a Fallen Angel.

What books have influenced your life most? I love old Sci-Fi and read so much of that in my formative years, it’s always stuck with me. Stranger in a Strange Land, More Than Human, Dune, and I Robot influenced me on an almost existential level. They explored the human condition above and outside the human. But my love for supernatural came from the Anita Blake and Sookie Stackhouse series. I started reading those back in the early 2000s.

What inspired you to write your first book?  The 1930s era stories are actually inspired by a roleplaying game, a movie called To Cast a Deadly Spell and Agent Carter. My favorite era, cool.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? I have lots of MCs, though the one that is nearest to my heart is Kathleen from Arrested by Passion. She’s a willworker ie; a mage in the 1930s. She’s also a reporter and uses a pseudonym to hide her sex from her readers. Her struggle to succeed in a man’s world and her conflict over accepting her sexual desires vs her strong independent nature resonates with me quite a bit. I like that she’s so strong on her own, but yet so submissive in bed. I dislike the stereotype that a woman is weak if she’s submissive.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? You can be weak and still strong and vice versa. That no one is perfectly good, everyone has flaws. Also, that sometimes, evil is just evil, it has no excuse.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?  Katheryn Winnick as Fiona from Nocturnal Voyeur, she plays Lagertha on Vikings.

When did you decide to become a writer? I have always wanted to, but was afraid of rejection letters. Self-publishing is why I decided to take the chance.

Why do you write? Because I have all these ideas bubbling out all the time. My problem isn’t coming up with ideas, it’s having enough time to write them down.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?  Try not to laugh. A Cracked article. I was just so intimidated by the idea of trying to get published and if I could find an audience or not. I started out writing my stories as erotic shorts. They were easy – I like smut – and low-risk in that I didn’t spend months writing to find out that no one liked it. The article pointed out how easy it was to use Amazon to self-publish and the basics of writing erotic short stories. I did not make a ton of money with my shorts and the immediate feedback I got was that I should be writing full-length stories out of them.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Definitely part-time.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Getting the time to do it, plus staying consistent across books. I cross over a lot, and have character sheets and short descriptions so I can quickly remember their eye color etc.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Deciding how gross I want to go. I find I tend to go very graphic because that’s how I see it in my head and I want the reader to be able to see it and feel it.

What is the easiest thing about writing? The world building and mythology and ideas.

What book are you reading now? Oh, The Girl with All the Gifts. That story has been such a kick in the gut – wow. Totally new twist on the zombie story. I love Mike Carey.

What is one random thing about you? I love villains. My favorite is Maleficent, followed closely by Loki. Some villians you can’t help but love.

What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer? I jot notes down on pen & paper or notepad on my phone when I have an idea on the go. But for writing it’s my computer and Scrivener.

What does your writing process look like? Lots of brainstorming with my husband or my friends. Then long drives with music or soaking in the bath to think about character voice. Then I jot out outline cards in Scrivener, which match up to chapters. From then it’s more seat of the pants and what the characters what to do. Once I have a chapter written, I run it through some online tools to catch anything obvious. Then I have several editing partners review it, my husband included. Once it’s complete, I have some Beta readers take a go at it.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? I think the bath is the weirdest. I’ll float there and listen to some instrumental music (can’t have vocals, they’re distracting) and run through dialogue and character reactions in my head or a loud.

How important are names to you in your books? I try to make them accurate to the time and culture of the character. I also try to avoid any other major books character name, though I don’t always do that.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? I like to surprise people, sometimes that has led to misunderstanding about a plot or that a character seems too mysterious because I didn’t want to give something away. In Nocturnal Voyeur I wanted people to keep guessing about Mack – what are his real motives? My favorite though is Milady’s Command. It’s a short erotic story, but it’s a bit tongue in cheek, and that was missed by at least one reviewer. The whole 1980s Harlequin Romance vibe was deliberate and about half way through you figure out why. Better read it to find out!

Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? Oh. Well, I picked a really conflicting genre to start with. Paranormal, historical, erotic romance turned out to be a harder sell than I thought. Not just any historical, but 1930s. I love the era, but most people who love the era don’t mix it with paranormal. The fact that Agent Carter is tucked into the mid-season break of Agents of Shield should have been a big hint for me that the audience for that era just isn’t as big. Most historical romances are set earlier than that. I have a whole rack of reviews that start with, “I don’t normally read X, but …”  Most of them liked it once they read it, but it’s been a struggle to get them to pick them up. I should have started with straight contemporary PNR/UF, then once I had readers who loved what I wrote, I could get a bit more experimental.

What is your favorite motivational phrase? The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be done. Strangely, this is from my endodontist who hits me with the shot as soon as I sit in the chair so I don’t just keep dreading it.

What is your favorite book and why? Snowcrash. I love the concept, the new cyberpunk, the banter and vision. So many neat things in this book, so many new ideas. Strong female character too, and the ultimate Alpha – he has a freaking nuke in the sidecar of his motorcycle. 🙂

Do you have any advice for other writers? Write what you love, it won’t be as much of a chore then.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I roleplay, read, play video games, watch movies – I’m an action movie addict, especially Asian ones –  drink beer and margaritas, cook, garden and try to get my son to do his homework.

From where do you gain your inspiration? Everywhere. Books, movies, mythology, roleplaying games, songs. The other day I was trusting Google maps to get me somewhere and I thought, “We just trust this thing to take us to where we want to go – what if it was evil?” I’m going to fit that in somewhere.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I hate the idea of rejection letters and being forced into a box. Having someone else do my marketing and editing would be nice – but by all accounts, the big publishers don’t spend much money on your marketing, so you still need to maintain your own social platform.

How do you market your books? I’m still boiling this down to find the most efficient way. I’ll tell you, Twitter is useless for marketing. Facebook blogs and the like might get some clicks. But the absolute best is via Newsletters. Not just your own, but big names with 10k+ subscribers in your genre. Don’t bother with the ones that aren’t targeted to your genre.

Why did you choose this route? Because I could do it myself. I’m the kind of person who buys a book on tiling and tiles their own bathroom. Literally did this. Same with painting, electrical wiring, computer building etc.

Would you or do you use a PR agency? Considering it. Because it comes down to time. I could build the network and take the time to post everywhere, but that means I’m not writing. Writing is the one thing that no one else can do for me. But I need that PR person or agency to not be a dick. No slamming other authors or being pushy – I hate hard sells. Plus I only spend as much on advertising as I made on books 3 months ago – ie; what I get from Amazon in that month I’ll spend on ads.

Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? If it’s ok if I name drop – Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains and Shameless Book Club have cost effective newsletters for steamy romance books at less than $20. I Love Vampire Novels and Romance Devoured newsletters are in the $50-70 range. The holy grail is Bookbub, but you’re talking $500 and up there, and they are very choosey. But I’d definitely stick with email newsletters, unless you’re ready to tackle Facebook ads. For a grassroots effort, if you are patient with Goodreads, it’s a great place to find reviews and beta readers.

What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? Too much. But I try to not use writing time, but to use other moments. Like the Doctor’s office or waiting on hold on a phone call or while I’m cooking.

What do you do to get book reviews? I have a detailed spreadsheet of blogs that do erotic romance reviews and I use Goodreads and my newsletter. I’ve gotten some nice organic reviews as well though Goodreads recommendations and Facebook takeovers.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far? It’s still about 50% of the ones I’ve sent copies of the books to. Which is about average.

Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers? Find groups appropriate to your book – ie; the BDSM group on Goodreads is great and has a fantastic review program. So does the Fifty Shades Support Group. Your newsletter subscribers are obviously a great resource, they already liked you enough to subscribe!

What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? Ah. Other than trying to not let them keep me up at night, I try to look at them critically. Is there something to learn there? Or maybe that person just didn’t know what they were about to read. A lot of my current reviewers seem to have overlooked some of the book description or maybe I was too subtle in the description. “Amorphous shadowy lover” may have been too vague for some people.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? Amusing, no. Painful, yes. I had a Thunderclap go out with half of the links to a typo on the cover (facepalm). No one noticed it though.

What’s your views on social media for marketing? People don’t click off of Twitter. They might for Facebook for a sale or freebie. Free or cheap Facebook takeovers are good and can net you some totally new readers, but don’t just spam them with ‘this is my book, buy it’. Hell, never spam anyone with ‘this is my book, buy it’ no one likes that. Engage on a personal level, be interesting, make friends.

Which social network worked best for you? I like Facebook, but I’m about to make some serious changes to how I do my newsletter. Lots of unique and interactive content will be exclusively available there.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do? Pick a popular niche, develop it, then get experimental and play with tropes. Get the readers comfortable with you before you try to get them to try a chocolate covered banana dipped in red chili.

Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? I contact a bunch of Book bloggers that I’ve already established a relationship with and asked them to post, plus used all the free newsletter options. I need to re-look at this I think.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? Kurt Vonnegut – I’d love to sit with him and drink beer for hours and just talk.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? Theodore Sturgeon, More Than Human. They were writing really new concepts back then, no one else had ever written anything like it before. How neat that must have been. Now it feels like there is nothing new under the sun, and we’re just struggling to come up with some new twist.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Start writing, find a peer review group to look over each other’s writing. You’ll learn so much by critiquing other writer’s work. Can’t find one, start one.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? I’m all over the social media spectrum. My website is under development, but until then:


Mailing Listbit.ly/1oETKyy – I’ll be doing plot, name and other contests to include content from my subscribers in my books, as well as Beta and ARCs and freebies.

Amazon Author Pageamzn.to/1Qnf7NX – Currently I’m all in on Amazon, so all my books can be found here.

Goodreads Pagebit.ly/1T45NSY – I’m pretty active on Goodreads and accept all friend requests.

Pinterestbit.ly/24Doa4P – Pinterest is where I’d recommend after the Newsletter. I have a board specifically for pictures that have inspired me for a story or character.

Twitter – NSFW 18+: bit.ly/1Q8JZzj – I talk a little about writing on Twitter, including when I’m writing, but also like to share naughty or semi-naughty pictures.

Tumblr – NSFW 18+: bit.ly/1QAgVGt – My Tumblr has lots of dirty stuff.

Blogbit.ly/1QtYHRz – My Blog has all book announcements and some general ramblings. But these cross post to Facebook and Goodreads.

Christmas Horror Movie

I love Horror movies and I love Christmas! Put the two together and it would be epic right? Especially with the ultimate scary tale of Krampus just sitting there begging for a movie.
Krampus is the evil Santa. He takes bad children away and hangs them in a tree to eat them, or sell them into slavery (pick your origin and pick your version).
So we’ve had movies about evil snowmen, serial killers and killer Christmas trees (Doctor Who, not really Horror but seriously killer Christmas Trees!!). I believe Supernatural did an episode about Krampus as well as American Dad. Now we are getting an actual movie!! I just hope that the movie is as good and scary as we deserve after waiting so long.

The trailer looks promising but at the same time not.

#Musical Monday Review #22 Fiddler on the Roof

Overview: A Jewish family living in a poor village, just trying to live their lives. Tavye, the patriarch has five girls to we’d and give a dowry to but he just sells milk and delivers it with a lame horse and trailer. The oldest daughter is able to marry the man she loves, while a Yente tries to fix the younger girls up with eligible bachelors. They rebel their suitors and break tradition, a very powerful thing Tavye holds very dear. All while fearing the Czar doesn’t invade their little Russian town.

Opinion: I first watched this in high school, and instantly fell in love with it. Tavye is such a great dad, wanting the best for his daughters as long as it follows tradition. He is also funny! I respect the traditional dances but to an uncultured high schooler, his shimmying (can’t believe that’s an actual word) during my favorite song, “Rich Man” is hilarious.

It’s not just the dancing that he does that is funny, but some things he says or the way he says it. I particularly enjoy his questioning of God, without actually questioning his existence. It’s something I’ve always been told not to do. If you believe in God, you can’t question his actions…or in-actions.

Another favorite song is “Matchmaker.” It is the Yente’s job to find husband’s for girls. However this Yente has a problem of making matches the girls don’t like. The girls go from wanting her to find them a match to not being in a big hurry.

Tzeital, the eldest daughter, reminds me so much of Barbara Streisand. However i find the middle daughter’s voice sounds clearer.

Comedy aside, I see the tragedy of losing special traditions and tearing a family apart as the result. My family has always been close but never as close or held many traditions as those of any faith let alone the Jewish faith.

I love the choreography of the Russian dancers during “L’chaim To Life.”

#Musical Monday Review #19 Beauty and the Beast

Overview: A selfish prince is cursed by a witch for not helping her. His curse is for him to be disfigured as a hideous beast, and all those who dwell within his castle are also transformed into animated household items until his 21st birthday. In town Belle is a normal girl who enjoys reading more than trying to attract suitors, so the other townspeople believe her to be odd. Her father is known as a crackpot inventor, and is believed to be the source of her weirdness. Gaston, local playboy and jerk, has set his sights on Belle simply based on her beauty. Spurring his affections, she focuses more on helping her father look after the farm while he goes to an investor’s convention. Belle’s father soon becomes trapped by the Prince and sends his horse, Phillipe to find Belle and rescue him. Gaston plans to have him committed once he is back in town, after Belle trades places with him. Once the beast has Belle, he tries to be nice but she only sees a kidnapping monster and he sees a stubborn girl. Over time they grow close and learn to love each other, but Belle has to leave to save her father from Gaston. Finding the beast is real and won the heart of Belle, Gaston leads a mob back to the castle in order to kill it. The house fights back, but the beast has been mortally wounded. With one kiss from Belle, the curse is broken and everyone lives happily ever after.

Opinion: Who doesn’t love a good Disney Princess Movie (DPM)? This one is my mom’s particular favorite. As a kid, I would watch it over and over but I can’t say it was my ultimate favorite. I do think it was my first DPM though.

It is a good story to learn that appearances don’t matter, don’t be selfish and that people are different. Then if you look past the Disney filter, things become a bit creepy. For instance, Belle has wicked sisters in the original and the beast allows her to go home for a visit as long as she is only gone a week. The sisters become jealous and try to talk her into staying longer, so when she returns the beast will (hopefully) eat her. Then there’s the witch cursing a boy of 10 or 11 because he wouldn’t let her into the castle. This why they invented “Stranger Danger?” It’s a bit excessive if you ask me. Disney covered it up by making it seem as if the boy was a teenager or so, but the original story says something about a ten year gap between the beginning of the curse and the time Belle goes to him. If the spell has to be broken by his 21st birthday, given the time gap, the curse began at 10 or 11.

While Disney tried to cover the creepy, they made it creepy by making the beast seem evil. In the original he was kind and giving to Belle and asked her to marry him every night, only to be turned down because she regarded him as a friend.

Back to the movie.

Being the practical child I was, Cogsworth has always been my favorite character. He is the one person that seems to make any logical sense as everyone else is trying to manipulate Belle or her father in the beginning. He was the voice of reason and I identified more with him then the others for that reason. Plus he was smart and because of him I wanted to learn more about the baroque period and have flying buttresses in my house.


Before I reveal my favorite song, I’d like to rant for a minute. The Special Edition that was released in 2003, and the version I happened to watch for this post, irritates me. Back on the cutting room floor a song was taken from the film and released without it because it didn’t add to the show and just stalled the story line. When they released the Special Edition, the editors decided to add the song in order for the consumers to get more for their money. The movie was perfect with out the song “Human Again” and instead of just adding it as a special feature they put it on the main feature forcing you to watch it. I know it’s not that big of a deal but it is annoying to fast forward through it. Then I feel sorry for the little children who won’t be able to see the movie in all of its original glory, instead being subjected to the pointless scene.

Favorite song is ” Something There.” It’s a short song when they are starting to fall for each other. They are running around and playing in the snow, genuinely getting to know one another. It is such a sweet scene and the song is beautiful.

Favorite choreography has to go to “Be Our Guest.” One there isn’t much choreography to begin with and two it is just an amazing scene. Silverware, pots, pans and flower vases dancing and putting on a show for Belle for dinner.

Favorite scene is the battle at the end because I love it when the wardrobe let’s out a battle cry, jumps through the air and lands on a man who comes out dressed as a woman.

Freddy Movies

I’m sitting here watching the original A Nightmare on Elm Street and thinking about the whole series. Maybe it is my lack of seeing the WHOLE series, but Wes Craven’s New Nightmare kind of throws me off. Not only did Freddy die in the sixth film, but WCNN brings him into the “real world.” They admit that the previous movies were just that but somehow the films brought him to life. Doesn’t that undermine the whole series by proving he never existed at all? And totally throws off the basis for WCNN itself? I may be crazy and taking this whole thing way too far but seriously where is the integrity?

The Nightmare series was like my introduction to horror movies and the two (not including Freddy vs Jason) I have seen are amazing. I just tend to question if WCNN needed to be made or if a better story line could have played out.

As for FvJ, I think it for a bad rap. The two biggest horror movie icons battling it out? What is not to love? I’m Team Freddy all the way, but it was intriguing to see two different worlds’ villians come together and fight for dominance. Plus Freddy had to deal with his consequences as he is the one who woke Jason up and brought him into town. It was a chance to see the humanity side in both characters.

May #WrapUp

CLTBRChallenge15 and GoodReads Book Challenge Progress- 21 of 65 and 30 of 65 books read. I really need to start reading books from my TBR pile again! But I have the next Night School preordered and an ARC of RSVP From Heaven to read as well. I am a failure at diving into my long list of TBR.

May books:

Night School: Resistance

Pines non-CLTBR

Wayward non-CLTBR

The Last Town non-CLTBR

Spearwood Academy Vol 6 non-CLTBR

Spearwood Academy Vol 7 non-CLTBR

My Camp NanoWrimo book, #LoveandDrugs has been sent off to a Beta Reader (no word back yet). If there is anyone interested in Beta Reading it, I would happily send you a copy for honest feedback!


I continued #Musical Monday Reviews and will continue them into May. Sanctuary Edits is still open for new clients. Sadly I think my guest post author has backed out, but if anyone else would like to step up send me a message and we can talk. Any topic you would like, I don’t mind. Also still taking author interviews!

As you saw there have been some posts from my creative writing class and I’ll continue to post them. I have also posted my poems and there may be more in the future…I’m not sure as I don’t write them that often.

My Book Facts

The hardest book To read:

The hardest book for me to read, is actually a series. The Sleeping Beauty series by Ann Rice. That series puts 50 Shades of Gray to shame and I was able to drag myself through the first book but didn’t make it halfway through the second before I called it quits.

A book I haven’t read yet but should have:

I have my own religious issues. I have made it my mission to read the bible, and have started it but keep putting it off. It is one book I feel I should read and should have read a long time ago.


Books I hated having to read in school, but I loved once I grew up:

Can’t say I have any of these yet. I have done well staying away from books I hated in school. That list would include two books: Lord of the Flies and To Kill A Mockingbird. I do not have any plans to reread these.

A book I should have read sooner:

Aside from the Bible, I would have to go with Lolita. Very interesting and wish I had read it when I was younger, give me a chance to love it longer than the 5 years and counting.


Books I read at least once a year:

I don’t usually read a certain book once a year. If the mood strikes for a certain reread, then I will but it doesn’t usually happen yearly. However, I have read the 50 Shades series once a year for two or three years now.


Books I should never have read:

That again goes to the Sleeping Beauty series. It just freaked me out and I cannot look at Disney’s Sleeping Beauty the same way.

My favorite books as a child:

The Dear America Series. Diaries from girls of different time periods expressing what their lives were like. I loved every one I could get my hands on. Another favorite was Love from Your Friend, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky about a girl writing to FDR and becoming a penpal with him. I ended up writing a letter to Former President Clinton and George W. Bush. With all of my moving around I’m not sure what happened to the letter from Clinton, but I do still have GWB’s as well as a picture of him and his wife that was sent along with it.


Series that should have went further:

Harry Potter. A series that brought the world together could go one to fill in little details about Harry’s life after the War. How did everyone cope? Did they all get over it or are some still haunted? The ending J.K. provided was nice but so much could still be done.


Books that should not have been made into movies:

Twilight probably shouldn’t have been made into movies. While I loved the books and was overjoyed when the movies did come out, I think a lot was not transferred to the big screen and they kind of turned four good books into a bit of a mockery. Still love both the books and movies but hate comparing the two. I prefer to judge them separately.


Books that sucked me in:

Harry Potter, Twilight, 50 Shades…pretty much any book I find, I get sucked into at some point. Even if I end up not liking it.

How about you? Did you have a book that was hard to read, or one you read over-and-over again? I would love to hear what your book facts are. Let me know!