Category: Guest Posts

Guest Interview: E.H. Timms on Create My Own Perfection

Posted February 9, 2021 by dove-author in Guest Posts / 0 Comments


Today, I’m interviewing E.H. Timms about their upcoming short story Create My Own Perfection. An ownvoices retelling of Medusa, Create My Own Perfection will be released April 2nd. Last week, I got to share the cover reveal with you all. This week I’m back with the interview I promised then. So… Let me share the description with you and then we’ll talk about creating an aroace Medusa tale!

Cover of Create My Own Perfection by E.H. Timms“It’s not every day you get to put the fear of Medusa into a god.”

Emma Stone, medusa, is the groundskeeper for Olson College of Extensive Education, a place where everyone is welcome, from the mythical to the magical. When her selkie best friend loses her skin in Fresher’s week, the race is on to find it before someone uses it against her.

The search brings Emma face to face with her oldest enemy – and forces her to confront the worst nightmares of her past.

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GUEST Cover Reveal: E.H. Timms’s Create My Own Perfection

Posted February 2, 2021 by dove-author in Guest Posts / 0 Comments


Today I’m hosting a cover reveal for fellow author E.H. Timms’s upcoming Create My Own Perfection. Next week, I’ll be sharing an interview with them about this delightful ownvoices aroace Medusa tale as well, so look forward to that! Click the cover for a larger version of this stunning cover.

Cover of Create My Own Perfection by E.H. Timms
Click to embiggen!

Create My Own Perfection by E.H. Timms

Coming April 2nd, 2021

Add it to your GoodReads or Storygraph today! Or preorder it from iBooks, Kobo or B&N!

“It’s not every day you get to put the fear of Medusa into a god.”

Emma Stone, medusa, is the groundskeeper for Olson College of Extensive Education, a place where everyone is welcome, from the mythical to the magical. When her selkie best friend loses her skin in Fresher’s week, the race is on to find it before someone uses it against her.

The search brings Emma face to face with her oldest enemy – and forces her to confront the worst nightmares of her past.

If you enjoy queer retellings of myths and legends, you’ll definitely want to check this story out! If you enjoy Greek retellings (but maybe find yourself disappointed that aroace rep seems generally restricted to interpretations of Artemis), you need this story in your life as soon as possible. It’s an ownvoices aroace take on Medusa and it’s utterly delightful. (Disclaimer: As an aroace who felt seen by this story, I may be a little biased, but come on. I felt seen, and I won’t be the only one who does. That’s worth everything.)

I’m really excited to share this cover with you! It was designed by James from and really captures the feel of the story.


Guest Interview: Renay on The Hugo Award Recommendation Project

Posted December 23, 2020 by dove-author in Guest Posts / 0 Comments


Today I’m interviewing Renay, one of the minds behind the Hugo Award Recommendation Project! The Hugo Rec Project is a yearly spreadsheet collecting works eligible for the Hugo Awards! This is a fabulous resource both for nominees and people interested in seeing what was especially notable the past year or what trends may be emerging in the SFF field. I’m super-excited to get to help bring some more visibility to the project and to have Renay visiting today! So let’s dive into the interview!

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Guest Interview: Sarah Waites on The Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Database

Posted October 16, 2020 by dove-author in Guest Posts / 0 Comments


Today I’m back interviewing Sarah Waites, whom I interviewed earlier this month to talk about her kickass cover design and now we’re here to talk about her work maintaining the Queer SFF Database. You can find the database on Sarah’s website, The Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Database, and you have a variety of options to narrow down exactly what you’re looking for. Like most of Sarah’s work, her database has an especially strong focus on intersectionality between identities.

S.L.: I’ve always found that the more intersectional your search terms, the less likely it is to find books with representation, so let’s start with something very positive: what has been your most pleasant surprise in finding intersectional representation for the database?

Margins and Murmurations by Otter Lieffe. It’s a struggle to find books with trans women protagonists, books with aromantic protagonists, and books with elder queer protagonists. Imagine my delight to discover a book that had all three!

S.L.: I can imagine, yes! That sounds amazing! One of the things I’ve noticed about representation, especially queer representation, is that it feels like every other month or so someone will lament how there is absolutely no representation for X. This frustrates me no end because it’s so often not true unless someone is specifically looking for multiple identities in the same book. So my second question is: how do you find out what books to add to the database?

Sarah: Lots of different ways! I’m pretty tapped into queer SFF spaces, so I’ll often hear about new books through social media. I also have a form on the website that allows people to suggest books, and I’ve gotten some new titles from there (although please note, I have a tremendous backlog of suggestions so nothing gets added soon!).

I’ve also looked at what gets shelved as LGBT on Goodreads and checked various queer book blogs and reviewing sites for what they’re covering. I’ve found a lot of books through The Lesbrary, Lambda Literary, Bogi Takács’ reviews and column for queer SFF classics, LGBTQ Reads, and similar sites. I also keep Goodreads’ lists for queer SFF published each year, so every once and a while I’ll check and see what’s getting added to those as well.

Finding new books is often less of a problem than finding the time and energy to add them all to the database!

S.L.: Fair point. We’ve still got such a long way to go with book publications in general, but I find it really heartening to know how difficult it is to maintain databases like yours because the issue is finding the time to update them rather than struggling to find the books. Speaking of struggles, I remember when you first had the idea for the database and were worried about how to organise it. Now that you’ve got a pretty solid set-up, do you have any plans for the future beyond adding more titles? Anything you’d dearly love to do if time/finances/coding skills allowed?

Sarah: I have not been great about doing consistent updates over the last few months, so I’m planning eventually setting up a volunteer team. My hope is that once I get all the set up work done, managing a volunteer team would be less work overall than doing all the entries by myself.

My current plan is to cap volunteers at ten people and to ask each to take charge of a certain type of queer representation or story and to submit one entry per month. I figure that’s a pretty low workload, especially since it’d most likely involve working with some of the close to three hundred entries that are currently unfinished. I basically just need people who can help look for reviews and fill out the appropriate tags!

I’ve got ideas of how this would be organized, but I still need to finish drawing up documentation and “how-to” guides. I hope to have something together soon, but who knows with 2020!

S.L.: I’ve noticed that your age group category (currently?) doesn’t contain any middle-grade fiction. Was that a conscious decision or one based on a scarcity of titles? And since we are getting more explicitly queer middle-grade in general, do you have any suggests on where readers could look for those?

Sarah: It was a conscious decision and an attempt to limit the scope of the database. The project already covers so many books that I drew some boundaries around the project to help make it more manageable. I don’t include graphic novels, comic books, or web-only short fiction for a similar reason. Out of all of those, middle grade is the one I would most like to add in the future, but I don’t have plans to do so anytime soon. If you’re looking for queer middle-grade, my suggestion would be to check out LGBTQ Reads, which is a fabulous site for finding queer books in general!

S.L.: That makes a lot of sense in terms of the limitations. There are a lot of books. I’m glad to hear that your reasoning for the boundaries on middle-grade books is down to sheer time and effort rather than a dearth of books, though! In contrast, you did decide to explicitly include self-published works as well as traditionally published titles. How important do you think it is for anyone promoting literature with marginalised characters by marginalised authors to make an active effort to be aware of and include self-published titles?

Sarah: I think it’s very important, since marginalized authors are much more likely to have difficulties accessing traditional publishing, especially trans authors and authors of color.

I do think there’s reasons someone would be looking for something traditionally published over self-published (primarily, traditionally published works are much more likely to be in libraries and thus accessible to wider audiences), but quality is absolutely not one of them. Great books can be found both by traditionally published and self-published authors, and indie authors are often just as serious and professional (if not more so in some cases!) than traditionally published authors.

Part of the stigma against self-published books is that since they haven’t passed the gatekeepers of traditional publishing, then they must be of lower quality. This is absolutely false and ignores all the other reasons authors might chose not to go the traditional publishing route or how gatekeepers are often biased against marginalized authors!

Ignoring self-published books often means ignoring many, many authors who helped build our community.

S.L. Thank you so much for your time and thoughts, Sarah! I’ve greatly enjoyed chatting about your database and the efforts that go into running one. To remind everyone, you can find Sarah’s database at The Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Database. You can also follow Sarah on Twitter and her blog The Illustrated Page. (Plus she specialises in designing diverse fantasy and historical book covers, as well as a specific focus on f/f covers! You can find her designs at The Illustrated Page Book Design.)


Guest Interview: RoAnna Sylver on Stake Sauce Arc 2

Posted October 14, 2020 by dove-author in Guest Posts / 0 Comments


Today, I’m once again welcoming one of my best friends, RoAnna Sylver, for an interview. RoAnna is releasing the second book in their Stake Sauce series on October 31st, 2020, just in time for Halloween, and this paranormal urban fantasy is definitely one you want to look out for! Here’s the gorgeous cover and the summary of book 2. Preorders are open on where you can also get a shiny copy of the first book and a collection of short stories set in the same ‘verse!

Please note that this interview may contain mild spoilers for book 1.

Cover of RoAnna Sylver's "Stake Sauce Arc 2: Everybody's Missing (Somebody)Act 2, In Which: Our friends, some old and some new, must awaken a powerful, centuries-old magical force – before an old enemy gets there first…

Life for Jude is finally getting back to normal – or as normal as it gets when your new boyfriend has fangs, your old maybe-boyfriend isn’t dead after all (and has even bigger fangs), and everyone’s scrambling to adjust their lives accordingly.

There’s enough to worry about without evil, ancient vampires closing in, preparing dark rituals, and threatening to undo everything Jude, Pixie, and their loved ones have built together. But as they’ve all seen, normal doesn’t tend to last for long. And it’s hard to shake the feeling that something’s missing.

But then, it seems like everybody’s missing somebody.

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Guest Interview: Becca Lusher on the Overworld setting

Posted October 12, 2020 by dove-author in Guest Posts / 0 Comments


Today, I’m once again welcoming one of my best friends, Becca Lusher, for an interview. Becca’s recently concluded two concurrent series in her Overworld setting as well as started a standalone sequel series, Misfits of Aquila, that is serialising on her website right now! So I thought it was high time that I poked her about talking about the series and the setting as a whole and sharing the world with all of you. October is also Overworld Takeover on Becca’s blog, so be sure to check out all the shiny Overworld things she’s got in the works!

Here’s the cover and description for the book that started the entire setting, Wingborn!

Cover for Becca Lusher's Wingborn, the first book in the series of the same name.Lady Mhysra Kilpapan was blessed from birth with a distinguished family, a glorious home and a giant eagle miryhl of her own. Fully aware of her luck, she wants for nothing in life – except a chance to become a Rift Rider. The elite force of the Overworld has been closed to women for over one hundred years and not even the legendary Wingborn are allowed to join. Until now.

Women are being admitted to the Riders again and Mhysra wants to be first in line. Except her parents have other ideas, and there are plenty of others who are less than pleased about the change. Yet if Mhysra can find a way to reach Aquila, she will let nothing stop her.

But the Overworld is in trouble and the vicious kaz-naghkt are destroying Rift Rider bases one by one. The Riders need help. Can Mhysra and her friends really be the difference between survival and destruction? Or will they fail before their first year of training is through?

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Guest Interview: Sarah Waites on Illustrated Page Book Design

Posted October 2, 2020 by dove-author in Guest Posts / 0 Comments


Today I’m interviewing Sarah Waites, awesome book blogger, maintainer of a queer SFF Database and kick-ass cover designer, to talk about her work designing diverse covers. You can check out Sarah’s work on her website, The Illustrated Page Book Design, here, but we’ve got some gorgeous samples scattered throughout the post as well! Sarah’s got a special tarot-inspired premade cover event running on her Facebook group on October 11th! If you’re an author looking for some amazing (premade) covers, be sure to mark your calendars and check it out!

S.L.: Before we dive into some of the nitty-gritty of your work as a cover designer, I simply have to ask: what are some of the things you’d recommend authors look out for when looking for a good premade cover design? It can be tricky to know what to look for when you’re not going for a completely custom design.

Sarah: This isn’t the question but I need to say it – a premade cover is called “premade” for a reason. (S.L.: OMG that genuinely needs saying? Excuse me while I go cry in a pit of despair for a few hours.) While some designers might allow you to pay for customization, most professional designers don’t. So when you’re looking at potential covers don’t think of the cover as a starting place but as a final artwork. And some changes are so big that they would be a completely different cover! If you have your heart set on something very specific, you’re going to need to commission a custom cover.

With that out of the way, there are two important things to look for in a good premade cover design. The first is overall quality. You want something that looks professional, since readers tend to associate a professional-quality cover with a higher quality book.

The second is something called “genre matching.” Essentially, covers are a marketing tool designed to sell your book. I already discussed in a previous question how it’s important to let your genre’s readers know that this is the sort of book they’d be interested in, but that goes beyond fonts to all other aspects of the cover. Color, contrast, figure size, clothing, poses – all of it and more is important for signaling the genre of the story.

So when approaching a potential premade cover, try to come from the perspective of a reader, not an author. What sort of genre do you think the cover is? What sort of tone does it convey? If it’s a romance, what’s the heat level? Think about what sort of expectations this cover is creating in its readers. That’s far more important than if the cover matches the exact details of your story!

S.L.: Oh, that is a superhelpful tip. I love the concept of premade covers, but I’m rubbish at picking ones that match myself. Your designs focus specifically on creating a wide variety of diversity, especially for self-published authors, something which I find is sorely lacking in many (premade) cover designers’ portfolios. Intersectionality is an important aspect of all the work you do, but it strikes me as one of the hardest parts of designing your covers. How do you keep going when you’re struggling to find what you want and need?

Sarah: Premade covers are often easier because they’re usually driven by what’s available. For example, my f/f historical premades that combine two photos are usually made with the sole criteria being “which two photos can I fit together?” For custom projects, there’s other considerations, like matching the time period, costumes, and characters. That’s often where things get tricky.

If there’s absolutely nothing available, not even photos I can rework or combine, then I usually suggest the author hire a DAZ render artist to create a custom image (basically a 3D computer rendering) that can be used for their cover. The main issue here is that it often adds anywhere from $30 to $60 to your overall cost, plus you can also be limited by what’s available as DAZ prefabs and some authors don’t like the idea of using computer renderings.

I ended up hiring a render artist, Kelley York of Sleepy Fox Studio, to create some f/f poses with women of color, because I was having trouble finding the photos I needed to create them.

Examples of CGI renders turned into cover images for books.

When you swap out the render’s head with a photograph, it’s often not obvious that the bodies are computer generated. If there’s something I really need or want to do and I run up against a brick wall, renders are usually the way to go!

S.L.: That’s really interesting to hear! I remember there was a time in ebook publications especially where renders were both the way to go and heavily frowned upon, so hearing about mixing them with photos this way is absolutely fascinating! I have to ask, though, since custom covers can be so tricky due to a lack of good stock material… What would your ideal photo shoot look like if someone handed you a million dollars to organise one? (Or multiple ones.)

Sarah: Oh wow! That would be a dream, and you could do a lot with a million dollars.

I’d want to hire a diverse range of models and get a variety of high-quality costumes and props. As for what sort of photos I’d want… there’s so many! I’d love more historical and fantasy photos with models of color and plus size models, and some with same gender couples. I’d particularly love some African fantasy stock photos, since I’ve recently been working on a project that’s required a lot of combining photos to create the main figure.

Other things I would love to have stock photos for:

  • Black and West Asian people in Greco-Roman costumes
  • Asian women in historical Western dresses
  • PoC in traditional cultural clothing (especially African models, for African fantasy covers!)
  • Women of color in armour that isn’t male gazey
  • Just like… any f/f fantasy photos!
  • Trans people in genre-appropriate outfits and poses
  • More women of color in fancy, fluffy princess dresses
  • Latina models and Latinx couples
  • South Asian and Southeast Asian models in genre outfits and poses

And I’m sure there’s more! Basically there’s generally a scarcity of any photos that aren’t centered around white, cis, abled, skinny people either in solo photos or in f/m couples.

S.L.: So true. I know there have been companies trying to focus on creating those shoots, but I think sadly all the ones I’ve heard of closed down. Or they offer more diverse stock, but not a commercial license and they generally don’t fit the list you mentioned here either. 🙁 So, in hopefully something a little less depressing because of society’s penchant to ignore the majority of people in it, let’s talk about another integral part of cover design: fonts. How do you select just the right font for the image? Do you have an idea on what you want to use before you start or do you fiddle around with it until you find one that looks good?

Sarah: One of the most important thing about fonts is making sure that they match your genre. Different genres have different types of fonts that are used, and font choice is important for signalling genre (and thus letting genre readers know they should be interested in your book!)

For fantasy, that tends to mean all caps serif fonts, often with some decorative flourishes. Thankfully Photoshop lets me filter by font type, so I can go and take a look at all my different serif fonts. I have a few I really love and which are great for the genre, but I’ll usually try a few different options before settling on one.

If there’s one font I find myself using over and over again, it’s Desire Pro. And that’s true for many designers! It crops up a lot in fantasy, paranormal, and historical romance, both with indie books and traditional. Sometimes I worry that I’m using it too often but before I started designing, I didn’t even notice how many covers were using it.

Several covers using the font 'Desire' to showcase how often it shows up.

That said, Desire can cost a pretty penny, so if you’re an indie fantasy author looking to make your own cover, you’ll likely want to go with another option. If you have Adobe Photoshop, you’ll likely have access to the Adobe Fonts library, in which case I suggest Yana (which is another serif with alternates) or a combination of Cinzel and Cinzel Decorative, which are both free as Google Fonts.

I’ve mostly talked about fantasy here, but obviously different genres have different font standards! Going back to the original question, I’d say it’s a combination of knowing genre conventions and what fonts work well and experimenting with different choices within that category. The rest of the typography is usually choosing the alternates, arranging the layout, and applying text styling. I probably spend more time fiddling with the text styling (color, texture, gradient, shadows, bevelling, etc) then I do with the font!

S.L.: Oh, that sounds so familiar. You can fiddle endlessly with text styling. Not that I’ve done that or anything… Thank you so much for your insights into cover design. I hope that it gives people some insight into the amount of work that goes into creating them. You can find Illustrated Page Book Design on Facebook (joining gets you 10% off premade covers as well as dibs on new designs), Twitter and, of course, on its own website. You can follow Sarah on Twitter and her own blog The Illustrated Page. Sarah’s running a special premade sale event in her Facebook group on October 11th, 2020 as well!


Guest Interview: Vincent Scott on The Hereafter Bytes

Posted August 7, 2020 by dove-author in Guest Posts / 0 Comments


Today, I’m interviewing Vincent Scott about his debut novel, The Hereafter Bytes, coming out August 11, 2020. Let me give you the blurb for this comedic SF novel and then we’ll hop straight into the interview!



Romeo is a digital copy of his dead bio self—a ghost—in a spindly robot body. When Romeo’s friend Abigail—a dominatrix with a gift for uncovering secrets—tells Romeo she’s at risk because of dangerous info from a client, Romeo agrees to help her investigate.

Pursued by digital Golden Retrievers and a real-world assassin, Romeo slips in and out of cyberspace in a madcap race for survival. Can he unmask the criminal who threatens the integrity of cyberspace and the real-world economy before it’s too late?

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Guest Interview: RoAnna Sylver on their upcoming interactive fiction title Dawnfall

Posted November 27, 2019 by dove-author in Guest Posts / 0 Comments


Today, I’m interviewing RoAnna Sylver about their upcoming interactive fiction romance novel, Dawnfall, coming December 2nd, 2019! It’s am amazing genre-blendy story featuring space pirates, love of all kinds, found family, tons of queer characters, disability representation, and so, so much more! Let me give you the blurb and then we’ll hop straight into the interview!

Cover for Dawnfall by RoAnna Sylver, showing Zenith, the Ghost Queen and Oz working together.Find true love and family with a pirate crew at the ends of the universe, where aliens, ghosts, and portals open the space between worlds…and your heart. You are a Navigator, one who creates and guards portals from one dimension to another, wary of the liminal sea between them.

Your universe is made of two worlds: one contains the magic-infused world of Zephyria, and the other, the dystopian space station Eclipse. The worlds are balanced, until one day, an explosive disaster, a deadly energy storm, and an infamous pirate—the Ghost Queen—upend your life and plunge you into a race to save both worlds.

Dawnfall is a 235,000-word interactive romance novel by RoAnna Sylver, where your choices control the story. It’s entirely text-based, without graphics or sound effects, and fueled by the vast, unstoppable power or your imagination.

So what happens when you find there’s not just two dimensions to save, but three? Is saving two worlds worth sacrificing one? Will you find love with the crew of the Dawnfall, or will you bring these pirates to justice? Are connections between universes, people, and lives meant to be forged and protected, or severed for the greater good?

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Guest Interview: Kate Sheeran Swed on The Toccata System series

Posted November 14, 2019 by dove-author in Guest Posts / 0 Comments


Today I’m interviewing Kate Sheeran Swed, author of the Tocatta System series, which is a trilogy of novellas about runaway assassins, cyborg vigilantes, love and technology. All three books in the series are now available through Amazon and will soon also be available at other retailers. These books are literary retellings, sort of, exploring the darker side of Great Expectations, The Phantom of the Opera and Treasure Island. They’re also great fun and really fast, action-packed reads as Astra, Claire and LJ try to take on a rogue AI determined to control the entire system and take revenge for her broken heart.

Let me give you the blurb for the first book, Parting Shadows, and after that I’ll pass the blog on to Kate as she graciously answers my nosiness about balancing literary allusions with writing your own new story, the polarising effect of technology (and its topicality), and a little bit of what to expect from Prodigal Storm since this interview focuses on the first two books. Go, my organisational skills!

Cover for Parting Shadows (Toccata System #1)by Kate Sheeran Swed, showing a space shuttle orbiting a planet.

Raised by a heartsick AI, she’s programmed to kill. And desperate to flee.

After growing up on an isolated space station, Astra dreams of solid ground. But with an AI guardian plugged into her head–and her nervous system–it’s not like she’s flush with choices. In fact, she’s got just one: use her training to carry out the rogue AI’s revenge. Her first mission? Assassination.

When her target flashes a jamming device that would guarantee her escape from the AI’s grasp, Astra sets out to steal it. But the AI’s plans are more dangerous than she suspected. Corrupted by heartbreak, the wayward computer is determined to infect the star system with a new order of digital tyranny.

Astra’s been raised to care for no one but herself. Now she’ll have to decide if she’s willing to trade the star system’s freedom for her own.

Parting Shadows is a far-future take on Estella Havisham’s journey in Great Expectations, and the first installment in Kate Sheeran Swed’s Toccata System novella trilogy.

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